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The Wisconsin FFA State Theme this year is “Our Tradition. Our Future. Our Legacy.” I wanted to tell you why we picked this theme, and why it matters to you.

2018 has seen many milestones for FFA. It’s the 30th anniversary since Future Farmers of America became The National FFA Organization to reflect the variety of careers FFA members were filling. It has been 30 years since middle schoolers began their involvement, and since the Agriscience Student Recognition Program was started.

The Wisconsin FFA Foundation was started 35 years ago, and continues to support Wisconsin FFA members today. In 2019, we’re looking forward to many milestones in Wisconsin FFA: it will be the 50th year since women were allowed to join FFA, and thousands of FFA members, alumni, and supporters will gather in Madison next June for the 90th Wisconsin FFA Convention.

These milestones are all built off of the successes of former FFA members. Every student has a connection to those former members – whether it is by being a part of a multi-generational FFA family, being a part of the same school chapters, or by wearing the same blue corduroy jacket. That’s our tradition.

FFA is continually expanding its opportunities for members to get involved. They can compete in Career Development Events (CDEs, or judging contests), Leadership Development Events (LDEs, or speaking contests), Agriscience Fair, and other contests. Some participate in Honors Band, Honors Choir, or State Talent. FFA members can also submit their records from their Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs), which help them prepare for and try out different career experiences, and compete for placings in different Proficiency Areas.

All of these events allow FFA members to develop skills that match their interests. Last year, FFA members in Wisconsin were awarded over $31,000 in scholarships from the Wisconsin FFA Foundation, supporting members to continue their education and training. This combination of scholarships and skills brings FFA members to the forefront of the future of agriculture and better prepares them for our future.

That brings us to the legacy. For me, that has always been found in the blue corduroy jacket. I remember the first FFA jacket I wore wasn’t mine – while other people from my chapter wore jackets stitched with their names, I had borrowed an older one from the agriculture room closet. And yet, I still felt a part of it. There is something about being around FFA jackets and passionate FFA members, even if you don’t have a jacket yourself. This is based off of a legacy built by tens of thousands of previous FFA members. This legacy includes many things, but especially good work ethic, strong morals, pride in your work, and a cooperative spirit. It is felt when surrounded by FFA members and blue corduroy FFA jackets.

Our Tradition. Our Future. Our Legacy. It’s a theme that reflects the state FFA officer team’s commitment to our past, excitement for the future, and respect for the legacy that we all can leave. And it’s ours. Everyone has a tradition they’re a part of, a future they’ll create, and a legacy to contribute to. Wisconsin FFA has a rich tradition, bright future, and strong legacy.

This is a legacy that I’m proud to call mine. I’m proud to share it with 21,184 other Wisconsin FFA members. I’m proud to call it ours. Ours, because you’re a part of it too! You’re a part of the agriculture community, whether your role is as a producer, supporter, or consumer. You’re a part of supporting agricultural education and FFA. You’re a part of what makes FFA continue to grow leaders, build communities, and strengthen agriculture.

It has been a great past 90 years for Wisconsin FFA. We’ve created a lot of traditions. We believe in the future of agriculture. We’ve seen FFA members create lasting legacies in their communities. And we’re excited to take you with us for the next 90 years.

Hayden is the president of the Wisconsin FFA Officer Team

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