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As we enter spring and another busy time of the year, I’ve taken some time to reflect on a few opportunities I’ve had this past year as Wisconsin FFA President. I’ve had the chance to talk about a very important topic, agriculture, with some very important people, and I’d like to share them with you.

The first was last October at the National FFA Convention. I was one of seven students invited to a roundtable with Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of the United States Department of Education (USDE). Our group of students shared the importance of agricultural education in schools and the variety of careers students are prepared to fill as a result of their agriculture involvement.

These conversations were especially valuable because it gave me a chance to hear what other students value in education and to share my agriculture experiences with the Secretary of Education.

My second example came this February when I visited second grade students with the Medford FFA. I sat down to read a few books about agriculture to a small group of kids, and it turned into a full-blown conversation.

We talked about how potatoes come from the part of the plant that’s underground, what exactly the long word “pasteurization” means, and all the different food products that come from milk.

I always forget how curious kids are about everything–including where their food comes from. I had a great time talking with them, reading them books, and answering all their questions.

Whether it was agriculture careers or potatoes, my conversations have been rewarding, full of learning, and a lot of fun. If you asked me which event was more important, I couldn’t choose.

Yes, meeting with the Secretary of Education was an opportunity afforded to few. But I got to meet the future consumers–agriculture’s future supporters–in the second graders. You see, it doesn’t matter to who or when or at what event we talk about agriculture. All that matters is that we do.

Start looking at advocacy less as a singular event, and more as a continuous process. We are always working to start more conversations, share more information, and reach more people.

This week, March 10-16, is National Agriculture Week. Thursday, March 14 is National Agriculture Day. We are given opportunities all the time to talk about agriculture. This week is no different. I encourage you all to share more stories with each person you meet, understanding that agriculture advocacy happens every day – not just this week.

To find out more about National Agriculture Day activities happening across the country, visit www.agday.org. To get involved locally, contact the local FFA chapter to learn more about what they’re doing to celebrate.

Advocacy is just beginning a conversation: whether you are meeting with a political figure, reading to a second-grade class, or talking to a friend.  And with an important topic like agriculture, the time is always right to start the conversation.

Hayden is the president of the Wisconsin FFA Officer team. 

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