By: Samantha Voges
The alarm clock rang at 6:30 on a Saturday morning. Most high school students would not even begin to imagine being up at this hour on a weekend. Kylie Bennett, student at Texas A&M reminisces one of her experiences from her time in FFA when she was in high school.
Bennett recalls being up at this hour every morning to get to the barn in time to feed and work her show pigs before her day was off to a start.
Once she was at the barn, first she would let her pigs out of their pens for some exercise. Bennett would patiently walk her pigs in the grassy field for at least twenty minutes each morning. Next was the daunting task of cleaning the old, dirty shavings out of the pens. After the pens were all cleaned out, it was time to get the pigs back to their pens and feed them their breakfast.
When the morning chores were completed, Bennett was ready for her day to begin. Once the day came to a close, however, it was back to the barn to repeat the same list of chores for the night.
Bennett said that although this seems like a lot of work to do every morning and night, she would not have traded those early mornings and late nights for anything. Because of her experiences with showing pigs through the FFA Organization, she gained so many positive skills that led her to be successful in her college career and life today.
Agricultural education and the FFA Organization allow students to develop a skill set that prepares them for their future outside of the classroom.
The FFA mission is to develop a student’s potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
Through the many opportunities that the FFA Organization offers outside of the classroom and the nontraditional classroom setting that agricultural education allows, agricultural education plays an important role in not only the future of the agriculture industry, but it contributes to developing essential character traits and career skills in students turning them into young adults that are prepared to be acting members of society.
Courtney Overstreet, graduate student at Texas A&M and a future agricultural science teacher said that students have a unique opportunity to learn from hands-on experiences. This includes tasks such as welding, creating floral arrangements and working with animals.
“Instead of just reading about a skill in a textbook, they get to actually complete the skill with their own two hands,” Overstreet said.
Overstreet continued to explain that as agricultural education goes hand in hand with the completely student run organization of FFA, students are able to participate in contests in which they can apply what they learn in the classroom to a real life setting.
Overstreet said that through agricultural education programs, students are being molded into well rounded leaders of the next generation. These programs can take your typical shy student and bring them out of their shell. There is a place for every student in agriculture classes and the FFA.
“There are benefits for every type of student regardless what their background, economic status, gender, or even personality is,” Overstreet said. “There is quite literally something for every single student; agricultural education programs and the FFA are changing students’ lives, and there is no doubt about it.”
Bennett agreed that the benefits she gained from the FFA Organization changed her life to mold her into the responsible person she is today. She said that because of her early mornings and late nights at the barn, she was able to learn how to take care of animals and learned how to manage her time. Showing pigs also allowed her the opportunity to grow as a competitor.
“This activity taught me to be a gracious winner and how to handle loss,” Bennett said.
Bennett added that through other leadership, speaking and judging contests she was able to learn how to work with a team and be a positive contributor toward a common goal.
Kaleb Wood, an undergraduate student at Texas A&M and a former FFA member said that he credits his accomplishment today to his time in the Riesel agriculture program and FFA chapter.
Through FFA, Wood was able to overcome his anxiety of public speaking and learned how to work well with a team. He said that through each contest he competed in, he was able to gain more confidence and become a better leader.
Wood said without a doubt that he would not be where he is today if it were not for the skills he gained through agricultural education and the FFA Organization.
“Just getting through college alone would have been difficult without everything I went through in FFA,” Wood said.
Wood said that agricultural education and the FFA Organization is not only shaping the lives of its students, but it is shaping the future of the agriculture industry as well.
“The FFA and agricultural education keep the agriculture industry growing,” Wood said.
Overstreet agreed that agricultural education and the FFA Organization contribute to the important task of developing future leaders of the agriculture industry.
“Students start by learning a basis of agriculture while they are in high school and then often find an interest area to pursue a career in,” Overstreet said.
Kayla Threet, an agricultural science major at Texas A&M and future teacher said that through the agriculture classroom students are introduced to the multiple job opportunities the agriculture industry has to offer.
Through her own experiences, Threet said that she has seen that many students who are involved in an agriculture program go on to have a career in the agriculture industry. Some students go straight into this field of work after high school while others enter after their completion of college.
Threet said that if it were not for agricultural education programs, some students may not have the opportunity to see the careers that are available in the agriculture industry and would not be accomplishing the things they are today.
Overstreet said that agriculture education is important for students to experience because combined with the FFA Organization, they are able to gain a skill set that will lead them down a successful path.
“Personal growth is a major effect from participating in FFA, and I believe that it would be beneficial for every student to experience,” Overstreet said.
Threet said that if it were not for agricultural education, many students would not have a true understanding of where their everyday necessities including food and clothing come from.
“America’s backbone is agriculture,” Threet said. “If we aren’t teaching students about agriculture, they are not learning about the most important aspect of their everyday lives.”