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By Ben Styer, 2020-21 Wisconsin State FFA Vice President
In a year when COVID has stopped so many of our traditional experiences, FFA members across Wisconsin are continuing to break down barriers and be unstoppable in the classroom and their communities as they celebrate National FFA Week, February 20-27, 2021. FFA is an agricultural-based leadership organization that focuses on developing students potential through premier leadership, personal growth, and career success. Made up of 252 chapters with 21,264 FFA members, the Wisconsin Association of FFA has continued to offer opportunities to develop these qualities, even in an unconventional year.
Throughout all fifty states and Puerto Rico, FFA members are able to enroll in the intra-curricular organization through agricultural education. In fact, the National FFA Organization hit a record breaking membership of 760,113 last year. Many students in agricultural education classes realize the endless opportunities available within the organization and become involved outside of the classroom as well. FFA members continue to strive for excellence as they each hold a very important part of the world’s largest student led organization – the National FFA Organization. National FFA Week is a unique time of year dedicated to celebrating every member within the organization.
While there is a record breaking number of FFA members nationwide, the organization continues to seek involvement because the growth members experience is a result of active involvement. From attending virtual leadership conferences to participating in Leadership Development Events to enhance public speaking skills, FFA members are continuously growing, learning, and adapting. Cancelations became a normal occurrence in 2020, but the Wisconsin Association of FFA has embodied the state theme, “Unstoppable.” Weeks after school districts began virtual learning in March, our chapters began hosting food and blood drives, highway clean-ups, and yard sign sales in support of farmers while keeping health and safety the top priority. The year 2020 offered a plethora of needs in our communities, but FFA members stepped up to the challenge by identifying and addressing these needs head on. As natural-born leaders, members find opportunities to adapt and persevere through difficult times.
Student involvement in FFA goes beyond extracurricular involvement and exposes students to career readiness skills through their individual Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs. Supervised Agricultural Experiences are unique student-led work-based experiences that allow students to discover agricultural career pathways through employment, research, entrepreneurship, service learning, and school-based enterprises. Through this unique component of agricultural education, students not only expand their knowledge, but they also develop soft skills in high demand by employers. On a national level, Wisconsin FFA members exceeded all other states as they were awarded 51 grants to go towards further developing their Supervised Agricultural Experiences. Between workplace learning experiences and community service opportunities, FFA begins to prepare students for any career, including 235 unique careers within the agricultural community.
The future is bright because of hardworking FFA members serving their communities and developing their leadership skills. All throughout the nation and here in our hometown, FFA is changing the world. Visit www.WisconsinFFA.org to learn more about the next generation of leaders, creators, and seekers.
Ben Styer, son of Dave and Karen Styer, is serving as a Wisconsin State FFA Vice President for the 2020-21 year and graduated from Menomonie High School in 2020.