FFA: Accomplishing our mission

Casey Denk
Wisconsin FFA celebrated the beginning of National FFA Week by advocating for FFA and agricultural education with 145 FFA members at the state capitol in Madison, WI.

The end of winter and start of spring are busy times for FFA members across the nation. Around the country, members gathered to celebrate National FFA Week (February 19-26). This year, Wisconsin is celebrating an all-time high membership of 23,190 FFA members with hopes to see this total increase for years to come. FFA members are dedicated and inspired to carry on the traditions and legacy of Wisconsin FFA. Throughout our FFA career, we are exposed to an array of experiences granting us the ability to live up to the standards written in the FFA mission. We work to improve our premier leadership, personal growth and career success, making us better equipped for life after high school. 

Wisconsin FFA’s record-high membership helped the National FFA surpass its membership record, which reached 850,823 members this year. Meaning there are more FFA members than ever with a drive  to better themselves, their communities and the future of agriculture. FFA members work to develop skills throughout their FFA career inside and outside of the classroom, which will benefit them and the agriculture industry for years to come. 

Agricultural education is broken up into a three-component model involving classroom instruction, FFA and Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs). Together these three components establish a welcoming and effective learning environment to help develop each aspect of the FFA mission within our students. This model of instruction encourages every member to get out of their comfort zone and cultivate new leaders in the ever-evolving agriculture industry. 

On Feb. 17, Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s FFA Farm Forum Conference gathered 240 FFA members from across the state to engage in hands-on workshops, career exploration, and networking with agricultural professionals.

This encouragement begins in the classroom. Agriculture educators are building the framework of our members and exposing them to hands-on curriculum throughout each aspect of the agriculture  industry ranging from floriculture, biotechnology, animal science, engineering and many other areas. The skills gained in the classroom are further developed through each student's SAE. Each SAE  is unique and built around the member’s interests. These programs allow students to be the driving force behind each of their projects and allow students the opportunity to make their own decisions, which garners  successful experiences. They apply their classroom knowledge to real-world experiences, guiding them to find their passion within agriculture. 

FFA is the building block to complete the three-component model. While attending leadership workshops, conferences, and conventions, we gather a network of driven individuals who are the next generation of leaders. FFA members are learning by doing within their classrooms, SAE projects and FFA chapters. The three-component model didn’t happen by chance and is the key to our students’ success. Playing hand-in-hand with our agriculture education system are the FFA activities sponsored by our partners like Wisconsin Farm Bureau. 

FFA is focused on providing our students with experiences that will help carry them into their future. In early February, FFA members attended the 2023 Farm Forum organized by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau. FFA members were introduced to many career paths within the agriculture industry. This event benefits students by opening their eyes to the many opportunities offered by the industry we proudly represent. It also encourages members to stay involved with grass-roots, agriculture-supporting organizations well into the future. 

We are roughly two-thirds of the way through our FFA year. That being said, I have never been more sure and even more proud of the promise that each of our members represents. Our agriculture classrooms are home to the next food scientists, mechanics, lawyers, veterinarians, engineers and farmers and ranchers who will change the world. Determination and ambition paired with the qualities developed within our FFA mission are evolving the pipeline to career success for FFA members. Agriculturists, FFA advisors, and agricultural educators are devoted to continuing the promise and pride associated with the agriculture industry, and it starts with today's and tomorrow's FFA members. 

Casey Denk

Casey Denk is the President of the 2022-23 Wisconsin State FFA Officer Team