Partnering for the Future of Agriculture
The number of Iowa youth who believe in the future of agriculture is at an all time high.
Membership in the Iowa FFA is now approaching 15,000 youth in 232 chapters. True to their creed beginning with the phrase, “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds…” the agricultural youth leadership organization is proving more relevant than ever before.
“People pay more attention to their food,” says Josh Remington, executive director of the Iowa FFA Foundation. “In addition to paying more attention to what they eat, youth want to tackle the challenge of ‘feeding the nine’ and be a part of the solution to global hunger. We are tasked to do so with less land and inputs. Youth and their parents see career opportunities in addressing these challenges.”
The Iowa FFA and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences team up to offer a career pipeline to address global and local challenges in agriculture and life sciences.
“FFA offers a leg up in gaining skills and knowledge necessary for these careers. Once students are ready to select a college Iowa State feels like home thanks to their FFA experiences on campus,” Remington says.
Andy Zehr, director of marketing and new student programs in the college, agrees.
“Students in FFA come to us with a greater awareness of the breadth of career opportunities in agriculture. They can articulate their goals in a way that allows us to help them find their home on campus,” Zehr says. “That’s one reason why our students are less likely to switch to majors outside of the college—they have spent more time considering these types of careers than the typical student.”
Scott Johnson, executive secretary of the Iowa FFA Association, says the state’s membership has increased 69 percent over the last 25 years with 14 percent growth happening in the last four years. He credits the organization’s mighty volunteer force for providing members with leadership development opportunities.
“FFA works with students at an age when they grow, learn, develop and mature. From freshmen to seniors, we help them find their way and stay connected with agriculture,” Johnson says.
The college’s partnership with Iowa FFA includes:
- Enhancing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through secondary agricultural education—Mike Retallick, chair of agricultural education and studies, leads this effort with FFA advisers
- Recruiting FFA advisers and agriculture teachers including the National Teach Ag Campaign
- Hosting Career Development Events (CDEs) on Iowa State campus providing facilities and expertise
- Hosting Iowa FFA Convention on Iowa State campus offering members access to people, programs and places showcasing college life and opportunities
- CALS offers scholarships to FFA members participating in select CDEs and eight state convention raffle prize winners
- 67 percent of Iowa FFA advisers and secondary agriculture teachers are CALS graduates