20,000 Meals Packaged by FFA Members at Gin Show

farm-gin-14-ffa-food-bankIn just a short amount of time these FFA students packaged 20,000 nutritious meals for the Mid-South Food Bank during the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show held in Memphis, TN.

This doubles the number of meals put together last year. The endeavor was part of an outreach program by Kids Care.

The Mid-South Food Bank was founded 1981 and is a member of Feeding America, the national network of food banks. There mission is to: To fight hunger through the efficient collection and distribution of wholesome food, and through education and advocacy. The non-profit focuses on feeding children, families and seniors throughout the Mid-South area.

Tim Price, Mid-South Farm & Gin Show Manager said, “I think it is important for FFA kids to learn that the food you produce really goes someplace, it goes to real people. This is an investment from two standpoints. Number one is the food that goes into this food bank as a result of this packaging effort is nutritionally balanced with vitamins and minerals in it. I think it is one of the highest quality foods for it’s purpose that’s in the food bank pantry. Secondly, they get to see where it goes. It’s a hands-on experience and it’s amazing to see in such a short amount of time how many packages can be done.”

2014 Mid-South Farm & Gin Show Photo Album

Coverage is sponsored by FMC

A Week of Awareness and Giving For FFA Members

jacket_500x500Students from across the county are wrapping up another successful FFA Week full of sharing the importance of agriculture and their passion for the organization by hosting community wide events helping others.

Chapters planned activities to raise awareness about the role the National FFA Organization plays in the development of the agriculture industry’s future leaders and the importance of agricultural education.

The week-long tradition started in 1948. Each year, National FFA Week runs Saturday to Saturday, encompassing President George Washington’s Feb. 22 birthday in recognition of Washington’s legacy as an agriculturist and farmer.

This year’s National FFA Week is sponsored by Tractor Supply Co. Through Sunday, participating Tractor Supply Co. stores encourage customers to donate $1 at checkout to support FFA. Donations will fund $1,000 scholarships for FFA members while 10 percent will support state FFA association programs. Last year, Tractor Supply raised more than $362,000 in 45 states to provide 284 scholarships for FFA members to use for college.

Don and Mira Ball, who co-founded Lexington, KY. based custom home-building company Ball Homes more than 50 years ago, kicked off 2014 National FFA Week by inviting some National FFA and Kentucky FFA officers to their home to share details about an endowment they created to support the National FFA Organization’s Give the Gift of Blue campaign.

The campaign relies on financial contributions to the National FFA Foundation used to provide a new, official FFA corduroy jacket to members who can’t afford one. The Balls created a $500,000 endowment that will award up to 400 free FFA jackets each year to qualified members.

“If it wasn’t for FFA, I wouldn’t have made it out of my driveway,” Don said. “I’m proud that I have been able to give back to my community in ways I would have never imagined.”

Don Ball grew up in western Kentucky and was a local and regional FFA officer. The jacket he wore was handed down to him so backing the Give the Gift of Blue campaign is especially meaningful to him. He and his wife started Ball Homes, which has flourished and allowed the couple to give back to a host of community organizations and endeavors, including FFA.

He believes that the experiences and values instilled in him through his involvement in FFA played a big role in his career and philanthropic successes. His training in parliamentary procedure, he said, served him well in his three terms in the Kentucky state legislature.

As the largest youth organization in the United States, the National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 579,678 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,570 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders Scholarship

monsanto-thumbMonsanto Company just announced their launch of the America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders scholarship program to entice rural American students in pursuing careers in agriculture. The scholarship program in connection with the National FFA Scholarship program will provide rural students the opportunity to earn a $1,500 scholarship to pursue their education.

“With $1,500 to put toward their education, students will be better prepared to make a meaningful contribution that benefits themselves, their rural hometowns and the future of the agricultural industry,” said Elizabeth Vancil, Monsanto customer advocacy outreach manager.

About 25,000 agricultural jobs go unfilled each year due to the lack of qualified applicants. With a growing population the agricultural community needs talented, driven and passionate youth willing to commit to agriculture.

Monsanto recognizes and supports the role farmers play in the future of agriculture, so each Grow Ag Leaders applicant must have three farmers endorse his or her application. Eligible farmers can also help generate student interest in agricultural careers by spreading the word about this scholarship opportunity to eligible students in their communities and families.

America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders is currently available in 36 Crop Reporting Districts in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Nebraska, North Carolina and South Carolina. You can find a complete list of the 264 counties in the districts at AmericasFarmers.com.

Students interested in applying should visit the National FFA Organization to complete the application. Applications are accepted between November 15, 2013 and February 1, 2014. Eligible farmers interested in endorsing a student can also check out the National FFA Organizations website before February 8, 2014.

Great Turnout for 2013 National FFA Convention

ffa emblemRick Pitino told thousands of FFA members from across the country packed into Freedom Hall Wednesday that pressure and problems are good things.

Pitino opened the 2013 National FFA Convention & Expo, an event that in its 86th year has drawn more than 56,000 FFA members from all 50 U.S. states to Louisville for four days. His motivational address focused on the importance of interpersonal communication in achieving career and life success.

During convention, nine general sessions will gather FFA members together at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Students will have countless opportunities to engage exhibitors from more than 450 corporations, organizations and colleges through Friday at the Expo inside the center. Other events will be held at venues downtown, in suburbs and beyond.

News, features and more from the 2013 National FFA Convention & Expo will be published on FFA.org and on Twitter at #igniteFFA. Portions of the event are being streamed live on iHigh.com. The convention ends Saturday after national delegates representing FFA in all 50 states elect a new, six-member National FFA Officer team for 2013-14.

National FFA Organization Membership Explodes

ffa emblemAnalysts forecast that the world’s population will grow to 9 billion people by 2050. With global needs today to fight hunger and prepare for the expected population explosion, the agriculture industry needs educated, skilled and passionate people dedicated to sustainability.

Students are answering that call, evidenced by an explosion in FFA membership throughout the U.S, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in the past year.

Membership in FFA today stands at 579,678 students in grades seven through 12. More than 22,300 new students joined FFA during the 2012-13 school year. The number of new, local FFA chapters throughout the country has grew to 7,570.

Founded in 1928, the National FFA Organization’s mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

Celebrate National Teach Ag Day

TAG-day-13-webToday is National Teach Ag Day. One day out of 365 to celebrate school-based agricultural education and to encourage agricultural education advocates to share with others the great career opportunities in agricultural education.

The national ag holiday is for anyone who wants to share the story of agricultural education’s importance and effectiveness in the United States and also encourage students to consider careers as agricultural educators. Anyone who want to participate can find a variety of resources to help them talk about agricultural education at naae.org/teachag.

Many FFA chapters and state FFA organizations will host activities including capitol rallies, special lessons, community activities and much more. The Teach Ag website is a clearinghouse of resources to help teachers and advocates. These free resources include a video, suggested teaching activities, games and giveaway items.

The Teach Ag Campaign is an initiative of the National Council for Agricultural Education, led by the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE). It is sponsored by the CHS Foundation and CSX as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

Help celebrate the day and tune in to the celebration which will be streamed live from 1-3pm eastern. And don’t forget to participate via social media. On Twitter follow @Teach_Ag and use the hashtag #taglive13. You can also checkout their Facebook page.

Case IH Talks “So God Made a Farmer” Ad at NFMS

It’s possibly one of the best Super Bowl commercials of all time … Dodge Ram Trucks’ spot featuring the voice of Paul Harvey, reading in his characteristic way the moving poem, “So God Made a Farmer,” set to stirring images of the people who make possible our daily bread (and milk and meat and fuel). At the recent National Farm Machinery Show, Case IH’s Dan Danford explained his company’s role in their sister company’s memorable commercial.

“It’s been amazing what kind of spotlight this has put on U.S. agriculture,” Dan said, adding that in just a short time, it helped raise $1 million in donations for FFA. He considers it an absolute gift for Case IH to be part of this successful program to highlight the importance of agriculture in 2013, what the company calls The Year of the Farmer. “They included us because of our long relationship with FFA… 65 years as a supporting partner. And we are taking this torch and running with it!”

Dan said there’ll be more to come, including possibly a photo book. And Case IH wants to be a part of it all. “We are working with them to say, ‘What can we do to keep this going?’ Because the more people ask questions, the more they’re going want to know and be involved.”

You can listen to Chuck’s interview with Dan here: Interview with Dan Danford

And just in case you’d like to see it one more time.

2013 National Farm Machinery Show Photo Album

Celebrate FFA Week

164408_10151453625740660_34121918_nFFA Week is in full swing as FFA members from across the country take part in activities promoting and past members reminisce about all the opportunities the organization gave them.

The National FFA Organization has been a part of my life since the day I was born. My dad was an ag teacher, so I was raised in the organization. Once I was old enough to zip up my very own FFA jacket I couldn’t wait to take in everything the FFA had to offer. The blue corduroy let a shy girl, who lacked confidence, blossom into a public speaker, leader and advocate for agriculture.

Later in life the National FFA Organization gave me the opportunity to share my passion with my students as a ag teacher. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your students hard work pay off as they walk across the stage to receive their State FFA Degree or an award for a Career Development Event.

Today, the FFA is more to me than just memories. National blue and corn gold bleed through me each day. The FFA Motto of:
Learning to Do
Doing to Learn
Earning to Live
Living to Serve
Is a motto we should all bring into our everyday lives. Everyday is a learning opportunity. Everyday hard work gives us the opportunity to provide for our families. Everyday we should live to serve our friends, family and community.

I was disappointed to find out the video, So God Made An FFA Member, has been removed from YouTube. I hope to get it posted as soon as it is back online.

Zimfo Bytes

    Zimfo Bytes

  • Syngenta launched a landmark e-licensing platform to provide plant breeders and researchers with easy access to patented native traits from its commercial vegetable varieties.
  • Monty’s Plant Food Company launched a redesigned website this month to enhance overall customer experience.
  • The U.S. Department of Education has appointed a highly experienced and accomplished education professional to help develop, implement and manage policy for the National FFA Organization.
  • CIC & NCBA mobile app for the Cattle Industry Convention & Trade Show is now available for download.

Joshua Bledsoe Named COO of the National FFA


Joshua Bledsoe was named chief operating officer of the National FFA Organization. Bledsoe will manage major FFA operations and lead the overall execution of the 557,318-member organization’s strategic plan, reporting directly to CEO Dr. Dwight Armstrong.

Bledsoe has previously served as the state agricultural education leader and state FFA advisor for North Carolina and has accumulated 15 years of progressive leadership and management experience within agricultural education. He has been a key member on numerous national and state FFA boards and committees, and is a member of the National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education, among other professional organizations.

As COO, Bledsoe will lead key FFA organizational units, including education; convention and events management; partner services; information technology; marketing, communications and brand management; and merchandising and customer fulfillment.

As the North Carolina State Agricultural Education Leader, Bledsoe provided leadership and overall coordination for agricultural education within the state. He was charged with leading an 11-member state agricultural education team and ensuring professional development opportunities for teachers. Bledsoe also developed and maintained close working relationships with local, state and national agencies and organizations. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Bledsoe earned both undergraduate and master’s degrees in agricultural education.

Bledsoe will relocate to Indianapolis with his family to begin the new role on Feb. 18.

Update On Missouri CTE Programs

Last week I shared how Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in the state of Missouri are being threatened by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) new Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP 5). MSIP 5 removes the priority for organizations like the FFA from a students high school education.

Bringing attention to this issue has got a lot of people talking about it and what they can do to help preserve vocational programs for the future of Missouri’s youth. The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association has done just that by releasing a Call To Action In Support of FFA.

The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) submitted comments on behalf of its members today, Nov. 26, 2012, regarding changes that the DESE have proposed in a new version of the MSIP 5 that will impact CTE courses in high schools. The changes have direct implications on agricultural education and FFA.

The new wording in MSIP 5, in comparison to MSIP 4, does not emphasize CTE and student organizations such as FFA. It is important that the wording be clarified to keep these programs strong in the state of Missouri.

MCA is encouraging all cattlemen and cattlewomen to take action and submit a letter of concern. Comments must be postmarked by Nov. 30, 2012. Send comments to:

Margie Vandeven, Assistant Commissioner Office of Quality Schools
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
P.O. Box 480

In MCA’s call to action they also included a sample letter for people to use. It includes three key points that DESE needs to consider changing before MSIP 5 is finalized. I also encourage you to share your own personal story as to why career and technical education programs like the FFA have made a difference in your life.

This morning I spoke with Mike Deering, Executive Vice President of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, about their support for the Missouri FFA and the importance of representatives in Jefferson City to listen to those directly affected by the changes in MSIP 5.

Listen to my interview with Mike here: Mike Deering - MCA

Career & Technical Education Threatened in Missouri

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs such as the Missouri FFA strive to teach students valuable skills through leadership opportunities & hands-on learning in high school vocational classes. There is a proposal sent out by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) removing the priority for organizations like the FFA from a students high school education.

CTE is not limited to just the FFA. It also encompasses Family & Consumer Sciences, Health Sciences, Business & Marketing Education, Trade & Technical, Technology & Special Needs. Can you imagine high school without these programs?

Supporters of CTE need to be aware of the changes that have been proposed that may erode the CTE delivery system in Missouri. Interested groups and individuals would include business and industry along with their trade associations, community leaders, legislators, teachers, administrators, staff, parents and STUDENTS, both current and former. Think about whom in your community should be alerted and asked to take action.

DESE has proposed MSIP 5. This will replace MSIP 4, which has effectively been suspended by the DESE. The MSIP 5 proposal appears to remove the weight given to CTE programs in a school evaluation process and no longer specifically requires 4 program areas to be available with a minimum of 12 credit hours and 20 credit hours as the desirable standard for CTE.

Generate letters objecting to the proposed rule in it’s current form and ask for changes. Send your letters to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Attention: Margie Vandeven, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Quality Schools, P.O. Box480, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0480. Be sure to reference the appropriate code of state regulation citation of 5 CSR 20-100.255. Send a copy of your letter to your legislator and follow up with a conversation regarding what is at stake. Comments must be received by Nov. 30, 2012.

For more information check out these resources:
Missouri ACTE Outreach 2012
Proposed MSIP 5 Information

If you have questions about this issue please contact:
Jon Wilson
Legislative Chair – MOACTE
Gainesville FFA
417-679-4200 – jwilson@gainesville.k12.mo.us

A Rich History at The American Royal

The 2012 American Royal runs from Sept.9 – Nov. 17 and is chalk full of events for friends and family to partake in all promoting the wonderful world of agriculture. This event has such a rich history founded on the agricultural industry. In 1899 the very first American Royal took place in a tent at the Kansas City Stockyards as a National Hereford Show. Today, it has evolved into a place where people come to show livestock and horses, attend rodeos and concerts, and even come to taste award-winning barbecue.

The overall purpose for this historic event is, “To provide scholarship, education, awards and competitive learning experiences that reward hard work, leadership skills and agrarian values.”

“As an organization dedicated to youth and education, the American Royal reaches over 20,000 students annually with educational programs and events yearlong through the American Royal Museum, School Tours, Ranch Camp, KALF (Kids Agriculture Learning Fest) and various other programs. In 2011, the American Royal granted over $1,400,000 towards its purpose in the form of scholarships, competitive prize monies and educational awards.”

The past two weeks people from across the country have flocked to Kansas City, Mo. to exhibit their cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. I can’t tell you the last time I have missed showing at the American Royal. I started out there exhibiting cattle as a junior and creating memories with my family. Later as a college student I traveled there cultivating skills while working for others. And now I attend with my husband while promoting and exhibiting our own cattle. Each time developing life-time friendships and building a foundation for our future in the agriculture industry.

Opening of AgroNomics

It is always inspiring to see our FFA members in their blue coats. Here are Shelby Riley (left) and Brandan Bergdall holding the flags that they presented to start off the 2012 American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers Annual Meeting and AgroNomics – Vision 2013.

I asked both FFA’ers how their convention went since both attended and what they were looking forward to in the next year.

Listen to my interview with Shelby and Brandan here: Interview with FFA

Photos from the Agronomics and the ASFMRA Annual Meeting can be found here: 2012 Agronomics Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

New FFA Officers Announced

At the conclusion of the 2012 National FFA Convention the new officer team was elected. UF Gators student Clay Sapp was elected to serve as National FFA president. How ’bout them Gators!

“It will be my mission to activate change and growth in the National FFA Organization,” he said. “I plan to develop strong relationships, be a champion of FFA and agricultural education and seek new ways to strengthen student experiences within FFA.”

Joining Sapp on the 2012-13 National FFA Officer team are Kalie Hall of Georgia as national secretary, Joenelle Futrell of Kentucky as Eastern Region vice president, Lindsey Anderson of California as Western Region vice president, Brennan Costello of Nebraska as Central Region vice president and Wiley Bailey as Southern Region vice president.

For the next year, the group will travel more than 100,000 miles across the country to engage top leaders in business, government and education. The national officers will lead personal growth and leadership training seminars for FFA members. The team will help set policies that will guide the future of FFA and promote agricultural literacy.

FFA Growing Young Agvocates

Young agvocates will get some social media training at the 2012 FFA Convention. I’ll be some of them could teach the teachers! What do you think?

FFA members will learn how to apply their technology skills to advocate for agriculture by hosting at social media training during the 85th National FFA Convention and Expo on Monday, Oct. 22.

Two two-hour sessions will teach participants how social media play a role in leadership on a global, national, state and local level. Students will learn more about the need for advocates in agriculture and how they can authentically tell their story using social media.

“Last year’s inaugural social media training resulted in FFA leaders engaging in relevant, meaningful conversations about agriculture and food,” said Shane Jacques, education specialist with the National FFA Organization. “This year’s sessions will focus on developing new leaders who are confident to communicate on behalf of the industry they love.” Continue reading

4-H and FFA “Champions of Change” Honored

The White House this week recognized 12 members and leaders of FFA and 4-H as Champions of Change, a program to honor ordinary Americans doing great work in their communities. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities

“The members of 4-H and FFA are shining examples of the positive change young Americans are bringing across the country, said Jon Carson, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement. “Today we are not only celebrating the work of students having an impact on their communities, but we’re also honoring the mentors and teachers who are fostering these leadership skills in the youth of today.”

The honorees were:
Ridge Howell, Checotah, Oklahoma
Jessica McAtamney, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Jacob Dickey, Champaign, Illinois
Neeta Patel, Princeton, New Jersey
Kea Norrell Boyd, Lansing, Michigan
Bill Jimmerson, Bozeman, Montana
Kaydn Ence, Saint George, Utah
Jordan Paine, Oxford, Nebraska
Chamonix Mejia, Laredo, Texas
Samuel Roberson, Prairie View, Texas
Andrea Kneer-Rice, Frederick County, Maryland
Pete Dreisbach, Hardinsburg, Kentucky

GROWMARK Honors Youth in Ag

The role of young people involved in agriculture is a true focus for GROWMARK. During their recent annual meeting State FFA Officers from Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin and representatives from the Ontario Cooperative Young Leaders spoke to members on the role of young people in agriculture and their future roles in the industry.

I had the chance to talk with Darren Riskedal, State FFA President from Illinios, and Marley Burgess, Ontario Cooperative Young Leader Representative, before they took the stage. You can find their complete interviews below.

GROWMARK also recognized forty-one college students from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin with scholarships aimed to promote higher education in agriculture and business. GROWMARK has been supporting college students since the early 1960′s and strives to provide $44,000 in scholarships annually.

Listen to my interview with Darren here: Interview with Darren Riskedal

Listen to my interview with Marley here: Interview with Marley Burgess

You can find photos from the event here:2012 GROWMARK Annual Meeting

FFA is Connecting Students with Employers

The National FFA Organization has announced a first-of-its-kind formation of partnerships to assist its members’ efforts toward career success. Through the Agricultural Career Network (AgCN), FFA will work in collaboration with Career Cruising, a provider of age-appropriate career planners, assessments and other resources; and AgCareers.com. These partnerships will provide valuable tools and assistance for students in their pursuits of more than 300 careers in agriculture.

Launched last December, AgCN is a nationwide system designed to help FFA members document their educational achievements, create robust portfolios and pursue award, scholarship, internship and employment opportunities. The network will provide a database of students who are interested in particular career fields within the industry.

Through the National FFA Organization’s relationship with Career Cruising, members will have easy access to career information within selected fields of interest. Career Cruising will provide online career exploration tools that lead to recommending classwork and hands-on learning opportunities while guiding members along a path tailored to their abilities. With its ccInspire platform, Career Cruising connects individuals to career mentors and employers in their community

The partnership with AgCareers.com will allow members to search for career opportunities within their particular field of study or within a selected geographic area through a very robust job board. By including these tools on AgCN, FFA members will have a convenient home for career exploration. The partnership will continue to provide members with job placement access throughout their postsecondary educations as they pursue internship and career options.

Molding the Future of Agriculture

Wrapping up our tour at Locust Trace AgriScience Farm, I had the opportunity to chat with one of five agriculture education instructors at Locust Trace, Mr. Todd Harp. He had the students eating out of the palm of his hand as he discussed artificial insemination and quizzed them on reproduction in dairy cattle. This hands-on approach to learning is just one of many things that sets this school appart from other institutions.

Check out my interview with Mr. Harp as he shares his passion for agriculture education and the importance of molding our future agriculturalists. Listen to my interview with Todd here: Interview with Tod Harp

Thank you Alltech for introducing us to Locust Trace AgriScience Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.

Locust Trace AgriScience Farm Photo Album