When Future Farmers of America started in 1928, its mission was to prepare the next generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population.
Today, we are part of that larger population they planned for all those years ago, and it’s likely every American has eaten food grown by FFA alumni.
While the mission of FFA has expanded over the past 90 years, at its core, the group still exists to provide the next generation with an agricultural education. The organization’s far-reaching impact is being celebrated across the country during National FFA Week, which continues through Saturday.
For members of the Powell-Shoshone FFA Chapter, this year is especially exciting as plans for a new agriculture facility move forward. The new facility — to be built just north of Powell High School — will give students opportunities to learn a variety of hands-on lessons in agriculture and even raise livestock there.
While students may learn about calving, equine dentistry or growing barley, not every FFA student aspires to become a farmer or a rancher. Some may want to be engineers, business owners, teachers or nurses — and all are welcome in FFA.
To reflect the diversity of FFA members and new opportunities in ag, the group changed its name to the National FFA Organization in 1988. The letters still stand for Future Farmers of America, “but we are the Future Biologists, Future Chemists, Future Engineers and Future Entrepreneurs of America, too,” FFA says on its website.
Whatever a student is interested in — medicine, technology, science or business — there’s likely a career opportunity in agriculture. PHS ag teacher Bryce Meyer said he wants to expose students to as many of those opportunities as he can.
“It might spark some interest so maybe they have a little bit more direction when they graduate from high school,” Meyer said.
A lesson in the greenhouse may lead a student to study agronomy and another floral design, while caring for a sick lamb may inspire another teen to become a veterinarian.
And some students may decide to become farmers or ranchers — which is a good thing, especially considering the average age of U.S. farmers is 58.
It’s encouraging to see the Powell-Shoshone FFA Chapter going strong with dozens of members, and we believe the new agriculture facility will draw even more students into ag classes. Though a lot has changed since FFA first formed in 1928, it’s still vitally important for young people to pursue careers in agriculture to feed the generations to come.