‘Impactful,’ ‘Inclusive’: Alumni talk about their experiences in FFA

In honor of National FFA week, I continue to reflect on the opportunities that this great organization has offered me. However, this year, I wanted to share the stories of other FFA alumni whom I have had the opportunity to meet! Each testimonial shines bright with appreciation for the blue and gold jacket that they wore as members of the FFA. Here is what these alumni have to say:

Ellie Cook:

Photo courtesy of Ellie Cook

“FFA was very impactful to me and helped me decide where to go to college, what to major in, and helped me find my passion for agriculture. I served as the reporter for my chapter for two years in high school. I was able to work on our chapter’s social media presence, which was awesome because it gave me some experience using social media for an organization, which is a beneficial experience for an Agricultural Communications student. FFA also offered me the ability to work on public speaking in an agricultural setting. In my senior year, I competed in the extemporaneous speaking contest at the state level, which truly solidified my choice to major in Agricultural Communications. I realized that I liked speaking about agriculture and I wasn’t too bad at it! FFA also allowed me to work with younger students and share my love of agriculture through Ag in the Classroom events and Agriculture Learning Days at our elementary school. I also grew to love Iowa State through FFA because the State Leadership Conference was held at the university every year, which played a part in my choice to attend ISU!”

Ellie is a sophomore at Iowa State University studying Agricultural Communications and minoring in Animal Science.

Amber Friedrichsen:

Photo courtesy of Amber Friedrichsen

“I spent a lot of time on the farm as an FFA member– raising livestock and growing crops. I had chickens, beef cattle, and I worked on a vegetable garden for my SAE. Even though I am happy I developed these tangible skills, what I value most are the connections I made and the relationships I built.

FFA was a great way for me to step outside of my comfort zone. In hindsight, I can see how my communication and leadership skills developed during my membership. It started with small chapter activities, like livestock and soil judging. I started making friends with members in my chapter, and then with members from other chapters. As the president my senior year, I really enjoyed working with the other officers and my adviser. It was fun to be in the classroom together, but even more fun at events like the state fair, career development events and convention. 

My favorite accomplishment as an FFA member was receiving my American degree. I had a lot of help and support along the way, and a lot of it came from my dad. I will always appreciate having the chance to learn from him and getting to spend time with him on the farm. It is because of him that I was successful in my FFA career.”

Amber is a junior at Iowa State University studying Agricultural Communications.

Ashlynn Lingle

Photo courtesy of Ashlynn Lingle

“‘I believe in the future of agriculture with a faith born not of words, but of deeds…’ – FFA is one of the few organizations that provide opportunities for individuals of all ages and backgrounds to serve the agricultural industry in multiple facets. Being involved in FFA and agriculture means using more than words to accomplish goals, getting your hands dirty, putting boots on the ground. FFA has changed and evolved through the years to become more inclusive. The ideal FFA member is no longer someone who grew up on a seven-generation farm in the heartland. Today, your typical FFA member is one to two generations removed from the farm, yet they have still found a place in an agriculturally centered youth organization.

I am one of those students who did not grow up on a family farm, but I had a passion for agriculture. At my high school, you could join FFA as a freshman. I anxiously counted down the days until I would walk into the classroom, meet the FFA Advisor, and dive into the abyss of leadership opportunities. From my freshman year until the day, I aged out of FFA, I took advantage of every learning experience thrown my way. With each CDE contest, officer interview, leadership training, and expansion of my SAE project, my love, and knowledge about agriculture grew stronger.

The success I had in FFA came from the support and guidance given by my FFA Advisor, Chapter Alumni, and other FFA leaders. All of these individuals embrace the FFA mission, ‘to make a positive difference… developing [my] potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success.’ The support of these individuals motivated me to pursue a career in agriculture and look beyond a typical education path. 

Today, I reflect on the impact FFA and my supporters left on my heart as I sit in my agricultural classroom. I would not have followed the path towards being an Agricultural Educator and FFA Advisor if not for those individuals capitalizing on my spark for learning and agriculture.  As an advisor, I can only hope to lead my students towards a life of living for agriculture ‘…with a faith born not of words, but of deeds…’.”

Ashlynn is the agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Danville Community School District in Iowa.

FFA is an impactful organization, reaching hundreds of thousands of students each year. Weather FFA students pursue a career in agriculture or not, they develop skills and attributes that contribute to lifelong success. If you ever come across a former FFA member, it would not be surprising if they have a memorable story to tell about their experiences.

RELATED: ‘The Blue Jacket’

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: