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In a time where the younger generation is claimed to be less motivated to get involved, Wisconsin FFA seems to be bucking that trend! This February, the Wisconsin Association of FFA is celebrating National FFA Week (February 22-29) and a membership that’s nearly 21,000 members strong. Meaning that this year alone, about 21,000 students from 253 chapters are preparing to be college and career ready through their agricultural education experiences.

With a record-breaking 700,170 FFA members nationwide, some of the organization’s growth can be attributed to its strong reputation as a premier youth leadership organization in the country.

But the primary growth has come from the ability to provide top-notch programming for all agricultural education students whether they are directly connected to production agriculture or not. It doesn’t take long for FFA members to realize just how valuable the opportunities afforded through the organization truly are. Once they get their foot in the door, they keep coming back for more.

It’s one thing to have strong membership numbers. Getting those members involved is another matter. FFA has both.

It all starts in the classroom. In hands-on classes ranging from animal science to agronomy to aquaponics to floriculture, agricultural education students gain an understanding of the complexity of the agriculture, food, and natural resources industry and why it matters to everyone.

The rigorous classroom experience provides students with an in-depth focus and sets the stage for college level coursework. From there, students develop their Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE).

SAE’s are work-based, experiential learning projects in and outside the classroom that provide hands on exploration through employment, entrepreneurship, research, service-learning, and school-based enterprise. Every project is student-driven which allows them to make the projects their own, explore their talents and interests, and fundamentally learn by doing. The addition of work-based learning to students’ resumes gives them an edge on their peers in today’s job market.

Then, of course, there’s the opportunity to attend a variety of leadership conferences at the state and national level. A record-breaking 3,800 Wisconsin FFA members attended this past fall’s leadership conferences. It’s safe to say FFA members know what it means to get involved! 

Premier leadership, personal growth, career success. That’s the FFA mission. It’s difficult to deny those 3 things are relevant to every student in America no matter where they’ve come from or where they’re going.

With diverse opportunities that can be hand-picked to form one’s own unique FFA experience, enrolling in an agriculture class and joining FFA provides students with the first-class leadership, communication, social, and common-sense skills they need to flourish in today’s fast paced and competitive society, whether they end up with a career in agriculture or not.

If you’re interested in learning more about how your student can grow in their leadership and success to be college and career ready or how you can join your local FFA Alumni chapter to support these programs, please visit www.wisconsinaged.org to learn more!

Collin Weltzien is president of the Wisconsin state FFA officer team

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