Seventy five past and present FFA officers representing 23 states will travel to South Africa in January for a 10-day exploration of global agriculture and foreign culture.
The 2014 International Leadership Seminar for State Officers is an annual trip for aspiring FFA leaders, providing opportunities for them to experience foreign culture, learn about international agriculture and experience the global marketplace.
Departing Jan. 4, the group will learn about U.S.-South African trade relations through meetings with government and U.S. Embassy officials and tour a host of agricultural destinations, including crocodile, dairy, sheep and beef farms. They will also explore big-game reserve Kruger National Park and visit local produce markets and agricultural schools. The group returns home Jan. 14.
While in South Africa, FFA members will share their experiences daily on the State Officer "Brighter Insights" Blog and on both Twitter and Instagram tagged #ILSSO14.
"In the past, we've brought FFA leaders to China and Argentina but, this year, we chose South Africa," said Shane Jacques, manager of state officer programs for the National FFA Organization. "The country's emerging economy, rich history, and diverse culture will lend the students a perspective we've never been able to provide to this program. Particularly with the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, these students will have a front seat for cultural immersion."
The trip is made possible by corporate sponsors Bunge North America and John Deere.
"Bunge is pleased to be able to offer these FFA leaders a wonderful educational experience that will have a strong influence on their future careers in agriculture," said David Kabbes, senior vice president of corporate and legal affairs at Bunge North America. "As a leading agribusiness company in the region, Senwes, our joint venture partner, will provide students with a better understanding of the growing role South Africa will play in meeting food demand for a growing world population."
"We are pleased to sponsor FFA's International Leadership Seminar for State Officers," said Amy Allen, manager of corporate contributions with John Deere and Co. "Africa will play a large role in feeding the world's growing population through new agricultural technologies and farming practices, as well as mechanization."
The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 579,678 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,570 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.