UNL CropWatch April 7, 2011 FFA Members Meet in Lincoln to Learn, Compete, and Focus on Tomorrow
April 7, 2011
More than 3,300 FFA members have descended on Lincoln for the 83rd annual Nebraska FFA Convention.
annual convention at a time when "agriculture is cool again," as one agricultural educator put it.
The convention is being held largely on UNL’s East Campus and downtown at the Cornhusker Marriott and Pershing Auditorium. High school students are participating in a variety of leadership, career, and technical agriculture competitions, touring East Campus, meeting faculty members and students and attending attend a career fair.
The annual FFA gathering "celebrates the changing nature of what agriculture is," said Matt Kreifels, who splits his time between serving
as state supervisor for agricultural education for the Nebraska Department of Education and an assistant professor of practice for UNL.
Tammy Meyer, executive director of the Nebraska FFA Foundation, added, "The reality is there are fewer and fewer students that come from production agriculture." The program has changed to adopt a more expansive view of what is defined as agriculture, including food science and safety, horticulture, small-animal veterinary science and more.
The program is really about preparing young people for their futures, whether in agriculture or another field, she added.
Past FFA members share that their FFA participation "gave them life skills — how to conduct a meeting, how to interact with people, how to work in a team," Meyer said.
FFA is one piece of agricultural education. In-school education is another. Kreifels noted those programs actually are on the increase in
Nebraska — nearing levels not seen since the 1950s.
"Agriculture is experiencing a renaissance right now," Kreifels said.
"Agriculture is one of the bright spots in today's economy, and the message is getting across that agriculture is more than production. It's about how to feed an expanding world population. We need the best and the brightest students to make that happen."
"What's the effect? Agriculture is cool again," Kreifels added.
One key addition to this year's convention is an Agricultural Issues Academy which will help participants become effective spokespeople for agriculture. Among other activities, they'll get a chance to meet with state legislators.
Additionally, FFA members will be seen throughout Lincoln as they participate in a "Day of Service." On Friday, April 8, students will participate in a clothing drive being held on the UNL campuses, help at the People's City Mission, and spend time with residents at the Tabitha Care Center.
Meyer noted that many ag-industry professionals will participate in the convention in various ways, through judging and working the career fair.
Career Development Events at the convention will include ag sales, agriscience, environment and natural resources, farm management, floriculture, food science, livestock management, livestock selection, marketing, meats evaluation and identification, nursery and landscape and welding.
Proficiency competitions cover 47 agricultural production, business, and management topics.
The convention will close with the election of the 2011-2012 Nebraska State FFA Officers.
IANR News Service