Future Farmers of America was founded in 1928 in Kansas City, Missouri as way to educate the next generation of farmers. Today, FFA is a national organization for young people interested in leadership and agriculture. There are over a dozen local FFA chapters in the Miami Valley - including one at Northeastern High School in rural Clark County.
As part of our series called County Lines, producer Anna Lurie went to Northeastern last fall to learn about FFA and to teach the students a little bit about radio.
"FFA honestly isn’t cows and plows," says Gracie. "FFA is...FFA. It’s no longer Future Farmers of America, it’s FFA, the National FFA Organization."
The FFA pledge, which the students know by heart, says, To practice brotherhood, honor agricultural opportunities and responsibilities and develop those qualities of leadership which an FFA member should possess.
"I knew animals meant a lot to me and the things involved with it meant a lot to me, but joining FFA, it’s really shown me how important it is to the community and even to the world," says Graci.
"Some opportunities FFA provides are community service," says Alice. "One of our big things that we do here at Northeastern is our Powder Puff game. That’s when the girls play football and the guys cheer, and we have raised over $10,000 for breast cancer every year and it is such a great opportunity, everybody comes out, it’s a big community thing."
"Another major event that our FFA holds is the Farm Day," says Mackenzie. "We host first graders to where they all come out to the farm and have that experience to know where where milk comes from and other things like where the eggs come from, where the meat comes from in the chicken. And it’s a really great way to educate our community so they are informed and know what they eat and where it comes from."
"I’m involved in FFA and it means a lot to me because I get to do a lot of things like show animals and help out in the community and be a leader," says Alice.
"It’s definitely taught me time management," seays Nicole. "When showing animals, you have another life depending on you taking care of it. If you don’t feed it or water it, then it’s not going to be able to survive, so you have to prioritize things in the order that you do them in."
"It has taught me when you sign up for something," says Alice. "You have to show up for something, when you are supposed to be in charge of this, you have to be in charge of it, you know, definitely being responsible."
"Throughout FFA, I have found myself," says Mackenzie. "I have really been able to figure out who I am and what I want to be when I’m older and how I want to continue my life. So throughout FFA I have figured out that genetics is the path I want to take to continue my career and the passion for animals will never stop and I just really love FFA."
"Having parents growing up in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, they had no agriculture or even experiences with farm animals and when we moved here, when they moved here, we weren’t expecting me to get as involved with the different livestock and want to be involved as much as I have, so I’ve really brought agriculture into my family’s life," says Nicole.
"I know that I made a bunch of memories during National FFA convention," says Gracie. "I met so many new people, I met people that I didn’t even know I could meet, it was so different. I met people from Oklahoma, from Texas, from Hawaii. It was so different seeing them and talking to them but after you kinda sit back and kinda think about it, we’re just the same."
"That’s not just in the classroom, at county fair, FFA is a national thing that has gone on for generation after generation and when we all line up in that blue corduroy jacket, we are one powerful person," says Graci.
County Lines is made possible by a grant from Ohio Humanities.