UMPQUA, Ore. — Elin Miller was a seven-year member of FFA as a young adult. She said those FFA experiences were strong influences on her future, providing her the skills that led to a successful business career with major corporations and government agencies.
For the past 20 years, Miller has been giving back to that program that helped set her future.
The National FFA Organization will recognize Miller’s volunteer efforts by presenting her with the VIP Citation at the 89th National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Ind. The honor will be awarded to Miller Friday. It recognizes “individuals who have provided exceptional support of school-based agricultural education and FFA.”
Miller was a four-year member of FFA at Westwood High School in Mesa, Ariz., and then a three-year member while attending the University of Arizona in Tucson.
“FFA changed my life personally,” said Miller, who with her husband, Bill, owns and works a hazelnut orchard in the Umpqua area. “I would not have had the career opportunities if not for the leadership skills and the technical aspects of agriculture that FFA taught me.
“I learned as much in high school through FFA competing in contests as I did in advance classes at the university,” she added.
Miller’s career included working for Shell Oil in its agriculture division, for Dow Chemical in its public affairs global division and for Dow AgroSciences. She was also executive director of Western Agricultural Chemicals Association and was a presidential appointee to the Environmental Protection Agency for Region 10, which includes Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Alaska.
She serves on several company boards, both locally and nationally.
Her past 20 years with FFA have included being a member of the National FFA Foundation board for the last seven years. She chaired the board for one year.
Miller helped establish the Individual Giving Council that is part of the national foundation.
“That council has put more emphasis on reaching back to FFA alumni and to other supporters and sponsors for contributions,” Miller explained. “...Most of the contributions to FFA had come from corporations, small and large, like 85 percent. Now we’re starting to move in the direction of seeking contributions from individuals.”
At the end of this year, Miller will be stepping down from the national board.
“I’m very surprised,” she said of being recognized with the VIP Citation honor. “It’s a bit of a capstone and a culmination of having reconnected with FFA over the last 20 years. I’ve put a lot of effort back into the organization.”
Miller, however, plans to continue to support FFA by helping the Oregon FFA Foundation with its fundraising.
The National FFA Organization has about 630,000 members.
A news release from the national office credited Miller with going “the extra mile” for FFA.
“Outstanding dedicated people like you deserve most of the credit for changing the lives of these young people,” Steve Brown, National FFA adviser and board chairman, wrote in a statement to Miller. “It is an honor to publicly recognize your outstanding support of our youth and agricultural education.”