Many adults may have a hard time believing high schoolers are ambitious and knowledge seeking. The common stereotype of students is that they are constantly texting, on Facebook, or following their favorite sports team. But in the world of FFA, it’s a different picture. Students are deeply engaged in issues concerning agriculture and therefore society. They have opinions on everything from migrant farm labor to the latest developments in GMO technology.
If you walk into any ag classroom during the winter months, you will observe students researching the latest in agriscience and the issues surrounding it. Texting and Facebook come in second to printing out the latest study from food producers, and flipping through issues of Capital Press and Farm Journal. This is because the season of Leadership CDEs (Career Development Events) is upon us. Everything from public speaking to parliamentary procedure, and from extemporaneous speaking to ag issues on the table. FFA members across the nation are gathering statistics, researching opposing views, and soaking in the latest news on the agricultural front to support their positions.
To give you a better idea of what these students are researching, let’s look at the issue of horse slaughter in the United States for example. Horse slaughter has been a controversial topic for years but has recently come to light again due to proposed horse slaughter facility in Hermiston, OR. As expected, organizations such as PETA and HSUS have taken a stand against horse slaughter in the United States and even played part in having it banned in 2006. However, what they don’t realize is that horses in line to be slaughtered are often sent to Mexico or Canada in cramped trailers, and then killed in ways that the U.S. has no jurisdiction over. A proposed horse slaughter plant in Hermiston could put over 35 million dollars into the economy, and employ over 100 workers at the same time decreasing the neglect of horses in the U.S. It is important for our young people to know all sides of these seemingly controversial issues so they can advocate in a productive manner.
When talking to students of Cove FFA in Oregon, they agree with this reasoning. Reagan Carreiro, Greenhand Secretary of the Cove chapter, says “Students need to know about agriculture issues because that is what’s going on in the real world. We grow up eating food, so whether or not we are farmers, we need to know about this stuff.” When Greenhand VP, Jon Jones was asked why it is important for the youth to learn about ag issues he said “These are topics we will be voting on in the future, being Oregonians educated on the agricultural perspective, we will have a stronger voice and vote.”
In a short time, students just like Jon and Reagan will be in positions of management and power in the world. If we continue to educate our students on the role of agriculture, it will be easier for agriculturalists to provide food and fiber to all. So the next time you hear talking about the youth of this country spending too much time not involved, just send them to your local FFA chapter to get the details.