Washington legislators are considering bills to provide FFA memberships to all students enrolled in agricultural education classes.

Senate Bill 5804 and House Bill 1863 would ensure funding for membership in FFA, which is the extended learning Career Technical Student Organization (CTSO) for agricultural education, according to a press release from Washington FFA.

Of 50,000 agricultural education students in Washington, roughly 11,000 are currently FFA members.

Sens. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake; Dean Takko, D-Longview; Shelly Short, R-Addy; Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup; and Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, sponsored the Senate bill.

Reps. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen; Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy; Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake; Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick; Morgan Irwin, R-Enumclaw; Chris Corry, R-Yakima; and Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, sponsored the House bill.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our state and so important to our economy and our way of life,” Warnick said in the press release. “FFA gives students interested in pursuing a career in agriculture the fundamentals they need to succeed and helps to ensure the next generation of family farmers will keep the industry strong for years to come.”

“A keystone in Washington’s economy is agriculture — which last year represented about 13 percent of the state’s total economy,” said Abbie DeMeerleer, executive director for Washington FFA Association. “As a leading agricultural-producing state in the nation, providing funding for access to membership in FFA is critical to enhance the effectiveness of Career Technical Education in agriculture, as well as the future success of our state’s agricultural and natural resource industries.”

“FFA connects learning in the classroom to integrated projects tied to career interests, as well as involving students in their local communities through service and outreach, which builds their confidence and helps them develop important leadership skills,” said Jesse Taylor, Washington FFA Foundation executive director.

The bill updates language and would reduce barriers to access for all students in agricultural education to join FFA as a CTSO by allocating funding for that membership, according to the press release.

The House and Senate education committees will consider the bills.

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