FFA an integral part of each year’s NW Ag Show

of NWAS FFA members are an integral part of the Northwest Agricultural Show.

The Super Bowl is around the corner, and a great way to enjoy it is on a big-screen TV that you won from the Oregon FFA Foundation at the Northwest Ag Show.

To have a chance at winning the TV, ag show visitors must visit the FFA-supporting vendors, each of which will have “FFA Supporter” banners at their booths. The exhibitors will stamp the visitors’ special card.

Once visitors have gotten all of the stamps on the card all they have to do is take it to the FFA booth, where it will be entered in the TV drawing.

“There is a lot to talk about in ag education; a lot is going on,” FFA Foundation Director Kevin White said. “Basically we’ll give an update and overview of the state of ag education in Oregon and where we’re headed.”

The foundation is making a concerted effort to build its support base. Since 2011 its membership has grown from 4,800 to nearly 6,000. White believes the Oregon foundation is the only FFA association funded entirely by private donations.

“We are thankful to have such strong advocates in the industry,” White said.

Ongoing support has enabled Oregon FFA to evolve with the industry. In return, the program provides a steady stream of enthusiastic, well-rounded, trained employees, new business owners and specialists in emerging ag fields.

Oregon Farm Bureau reports that nearly 14 percent of all Oregon jobs are in some way related to agriculture. This not only includes the traditional on-the-farm jobs but those linked to technology, science, finance, marketing and research.

“We’ve always had a leadership and career focus but it’s greater now than ever,” White said. “With less than 2 percent of the U.S. population directly employed in production agriculture, we have a greater focus on all aspects of agriculture.”

Nationwide, FFA is one of the largest youth leadership organizations and focuses on developing leaders in the ag industry.

It requires students to be enrolled in an ag class throughout their membership and offers extensive career development events, some oriented toward specific careers and others in wider arenas.

The backbone of the organization is its several tiers of leadership training and opportunities.

Part of being a state FFA officer is devoting the year between high school graduation and college to FFA service. In September Oregon’s six peer-elected state FFA officers embarked on a road trip to visit every FFA chapter in Oregon — 103 schools and 20,000 miles.

Earlier this month five state officers traveled to South Africa to participate in the 2017 International Leadership Seminar for State Officers.

This month they’ll undertake an industry tour, visiting businesses and farms across the state.

The pinnacle of the year is the state FFA convention in Redmond, Ore., which will be attended by some 2,500 FFA students.

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