COLUMNISTS

We Believe. Optimistically looking to the FFA year ahead

Ben Styer
The 2020-2021 State FFA Officer team poses for a photo with the great oak at the Alliant Energy Center after the 92nd Wisconsin State FFA Convention concluded.

“I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds…” These words written by E.M. Tiffany are the first words of the FFA Creed, arguably the most well known piece of writing in American agriculture. Despite a slightly unconventional 2020-2021 FFA year, one thing is true: the FFA community believes in the future of agriculture as deeply now as they ever have.

The feeling of having an in-person State FFA Convention in July was unlike anything I had experienced. As the first session began, seeing chapter presidents carry their FFA flags across the stage, hearing our national anthem sung, and being together with our Wisconsin FFA family  made me beyond proud to call this organization home. If there is one thing FFA members proved last year, it was that they are unstoppable! FFA members from all corners of the state continued to make a difference in the lives of others, persevered through uncertain times, and logged over 3,500 hours of community service this year. Simply put, leaders do what needs to be done. Wisconsin FFA is home to some of the most diligent leaders who find needs and address them.

Like many FFA members, I dipped my toes in the water in FFA by memorizing and reciting this creed. During my freshman year at Menomonie High School, I zipped up my blue corduroy jacket for one of the first times and nervously presented the FFA Creed, but little did I know what the organization would do for me.

Wisconsin FFA Officer Team President Ben Styer is pictured with a farm favorite show cow, Icicle, at his home dairy.

Throughout my time in FFA thus far, I earned my Greenhand, Chapter and State degrees while also serving the Menomonie FFA chapter in the offices of reporter, treasurer, and vice president. In July, I finished my year as a Wisconsin State FFA Vice President representing Section 2, and I am humbled to be serving 19,804 Wisconsin FFA members for a second year as the Wisconsin State FFA President, alongside my incredible teammates.

All throughout my life, but especially since joining FFA, I have believed in the future of agriculture. This strong belief is largely due to my upbringing in agriculture, growing up involved in my family’s 2,200-cow dairy, Alfalawn Farm. My Supervised Agricultural Experience, or SAE, includes working with calves on my family’s farm and helping with other daily chores. Through this, I have undoubtedly been exposed to “the joys and discomforts of agricultural life.” Through it all though, my parents continue to be some of the hardest working people I know, and everything that I have today - my skills, work ethic, values, and assets - are a result of their efforts in some way.

Part of my belief in the future of agriculture also includes pursuing an agricultural career. At the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, I completed my first year of college where I am majoring in Animal Science with a dairy production emphasis. As I am devoting my time to FFA for the 2021 to 2022 year, I have decided to take the year off of school and resume my studies in the fall of 2022. I eventually hope to return to my family’s dairy farm, but would appreciate gaining experience off the farm before doing so.

Hartford FFA members worked in the Washington Ice Cream Sundae booth at the Wisconsin State Fair. Several State FFA Officers had the opportunity to work alongside members during the fair.

My belief in the future of agriculture also comes as the result of having mentors and role models who have shaped the person I am today. The unique agricultural industry and FFA community we know today is the result of wisdom passed down through generations of agriculturists. Between my parents, siblings, family friends, and past State FFA Officers, I am blessed to have incredible men and women who I can turn to for guidance and assistance, and that gives me hope for the future.

In the year ahead, it is my goal to assist students in realizing their own potential. All FFA members, regardless of their background, have the potential to create change in their communities. I will strive to help students discover this, just as my role models influenced me.

It is no secret that FFA prepares students for the future with lifelong leadership skills through Leadership Development Events, Career Development Events, and many personal growth opportunities. However, FFA members also build connections with one another, as well as with industry professionals. We can have faith in the future of agriculture because our organization sets students up for success.

The FFA Creed also calls us to “hold true to the best traditions of our national life.” The National FFA Organization is undoubtedly one of the best traditions of American life, and it is an honor to carry on this tradition. Therefore, another goal for the year ahead is to restore joy in students’ lives. As mentioned, the Wisconsin State FFA Convention was an event full of energy, hope, and reconnection; it was an event we all needed. During the next year, I will continue this momentum and work for all members, advisors, alumni, and supporters to be proud of our Wisconsin Association of FFA.

As the 93rd year of Wisconsin FFA begins, I am confident that the FFA will continue to prosper. The incredible members, advisors, alumni, and supporters of our organization possess the will, grit, and tenacity to push forward. FFA members are learners, achievers, and agents of change. We step up and do what needs to be done. We inspire and influence. We are FFA members, and we are the future because we believe in it.

Section 2 State FFA Officer Benjamin Styer

Styer is the president of the Wisconsin FFA Officer team