Tough Times Never Last Tough People Do

Andrew Moore

From the Dust Bowl and Great Depression of the 1930s, to the American farm crisis of the 1980s to the unprecedented floods of 1993 and even to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, our industry has persevered one struggle at a time. Agriculturalists embody resilience and adaptability. FFA members, you too can become adaptable to whatever life throws your way.

 

Becoming adaptable to life’s situations is something that many of us are not good at. There are a few guiding principles that can help us develop this ability.

 

“The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist,” author Zig Ziglar wrote. Acknowledging the circumstances we encounter and the personal weaknesses that got us there will help us be more adaptable to potholes down the road.

 

The second step to adaptability is to analyze how others that were faced with a challenge overcame their situation. Understanding how they busted through their roadblocks can help us emerge victorious.

 

The final step to adaptability is finding a mentor to guide us through this thing we call life. Having a mentor who has walked in our shoes can increase our chances of success when hitting those bumpy spots in life.

 

The FFA Creed states, “I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny”. FFA members, the time will come when we face hours of discouragement. Know these words by Robert Schuller, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” Just as our industry has adapted and persevered through every obstacle, you too can adapt. Don’t let anything keep you from your dreams.

—By Andrew Moore, state FFA vice president, Clark County FFA

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Keeping Up In Ag

Ozarks technical community college
agriculture program is growing, everchanging

Ozarks technical community college agriculture program is growing, everchanging

At a time when the agricultural industry is constantly growing, shifting and innovating, schools offering degrees in agriculture must do the same. The Richwood Valley Campus and Agricultural Training Center are allowing the Ozark Technical Community College’s (OTC) agriculture program to do just that.

 

“Our program is blessed to have the opportunity to relocate from an urban downtown campus to an 84-acre rural setting in Christian County,” says Rob Flatness, department chair and agriculture instructor. “The Richwood Valley Campus is only a few minutes south of Springfield between Ozark and Nixa on Highway 14. The campus is perfect for a diversified agriculture program in that it has open grassland perfect for pasture and turfgrass activities, several acres of timber for forestry classes, a live spring and a creek bottom with deep rich soil for agronomy stations.”

 

The campus is a new development in a long line of growth in OTC’s agriculture program.

 

“For many years, our agriculture department was focused on turf and landscape management, offering a two-year associate degree and a one-year certificate,” Flatness says. “We saw that many of our students were graduating from our program and transferring to a four-year university to obtain a bachelors’ degree in agriculture. It was at that time that we expanded our agriculture course offerings and developed an associate degree in agriculture.”

 

Further filling the needs of its students, the program began working with university partners to develop “2 + 2” plans allowing OTC agriculture students to complete their two-year program while preparing to transfer and graduate from a university in an additional two years.

 

More recently, the agriculture program shifted its degree offerings again to accommodate for changing needs of students and the industry.

 

OTC previously offered an associate degree and certificate in turf and landscape management as well as an associate degree in agriculture. Students pursuing a degree in agriculture could choose from animal science, plant science or general agriculture, but their transcript and diploma would only reference a degree in agriculture.

 

“Beginning next semester, our students will be able to receive a degree in the specific area of their interest instead of just agriculture,” Flatness says.

 

In response to industry needs for more trained technicians, the program also added a one-year outdoor power and powersports technician certificate program in the 2019-2020 school year.

 

As OTC’s agricultural degree and program offerings are evolving, so are its hands-on opportunities for students.

 

“The new facilities give students a very hands-on, real-life, practical education for a price that they cannot get elsewhere,” says Heather Eberlin, agriculture instructor and farm/lab manager. “It has really stepped up the level at which we can prepare students for their next step, whatever that may be.”

 

These opportunities include hosting livestock on campus with modern livestock handling facilities, greenhouse experiences, equipment operation, wildlife management activities, topography, forestry and more.

 

Eberlin runs the greenhouse on campus and says students have already experienced some added benefits of the new facilities.

 

“The new greenhouse offers students the ability to do plant labs year-round while also producing seasonal crops,” she says. “This past semester, we had a very successful first-ever OTC poinsettia crop. It is currently filled to the brim with annuals, hanging baskets and vegetables.”

 

Today, students are enjoying the expanded opportunities the new campus provides.

 

“Our current students are excited to be on the ground floor of development of the new facilities,” Flatness says.

 

Even students without a background in agriculture can benefit from the development.

 

“This campus means experience, opportunity and growth for me,” says MacKenzie Lathem, an OTC agriculture student. “I think the campus is unique because it allows us to explore our agricultural interests and it allows students who do not come from agricultural backgrounds to safely experience the industry.”

 

The OTC ag program plans to continue its diversification and innovative growth to provide for future students as well as the future of the agricultural industry.

 

“Just this semester we applied for and won a $10,000 grant through the college to start a Farm to Table Beef Program,” Eberlin says. “Students will be able to evaluate, purchase and care for livestock while evaluating daily gain and eventually carcass information.”

 

Innovative offerings like the Farm to Table Beef Program are allowing students to learn about agriculture in a way like never before.

 

“This campus means opportunity for incoming and future students,” Lathem says. “It is a great campus to experience new things for the first time.”

 

“Incoming students will have the advantage of facilities and labs that are fully developed and continue to expand,” Flatness adds. “We will continue to work with our advisory committee and community to offer a curriculum that is relevant to community needs.”

—By Brandelyn Martin Twellman

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Four Years Too Fast

Janet Adkison, RFD-TV anchor and past MO FFA Member

Following in the footsteps of her dad and older brother, Janet Adkison hit the ground running the moment she put on her first blue corduroy jacket. Having grown up on a beef cattle farm in Houston, Missouri, Adkison had a deeply rooted passion for agriculture she was ready to expand upon in FFA.

 

“I tried to be involved in as much as I could in FFA,” she said. “I have to attribute that to my family because they encouraged me and also helped me to do so.”

 

Her involvement led to many leadership roles, including serving as an officer on both the chapter and state levels. But before she could take off in the organization, Adkison was first tasked with memorizing what most greenhand members do: the FFA Creed. Those five paragraphs taught Adkison more than she could have ever anticipated.

 

“There were two of us in my chapter who wanted to compete in the Creed,” she says. “After they brought in three judges to decide between us, nobody could decide. So, they decided to flip a coin, and I ended up losing that coin toss. That day I learned not to depend on luck for something you really want to do.”

 

In addition to this lesson learned, the experience also opened many doors that would lead to Adkison’s future involvement in FFA and, eventually, her professional career.

 

“Having the Creed under my belt led me to feel comfortable and opened the door for me to participate in public speaking,” she explains. “Freshman year, I participated in the Farm Bureau public speaking contest and ended up getting third at state. That really warmed me up to public speaking, and I used those skills in judging contests like livestock and dairy judging. I still call on those skills in my career now.”

 

In addition to her speaking ability, Adkison also learned a great deal of agricultural content she calls upon today.

 

“The agricultural lessons serve me well day in and day out in my career path,” she says.

 

Starting her college career as an animal science major at Missouri State University, Adkison says it wasn’t long before she realized that path wasn’t for her.

 

“I had organic chemistry, and organic chemistry and I were not made to be together,” she says with a laugh. “So, that was a quick lesson that animal science and pre-vet were not for me. The agricultural communications program at MSU was still pretty new. It was still building up at that time, but I jumped on board and ended up graduating with my degree in ag communications.”

 

Today, Adkison is a news anchor and reporter for RFD-TV in Nashville, Tennessee. She says her time in FFA helped guide her toward this career.

 

“FFA led me to my career path,” Adkison says. “From participating in agricultural activities to public speaking to people I interacted with, it opened my eyes to the opportunities that were available.”

 

She works behind the anchor desk and in the field reporting on anything relating to agriculture or rural areas, which allows her to call upon the ag knowledge she gained in FFA.

 

“Those outside of agriculture think it’s a pretty narrow window,” she says. “But, when you talk about rural and you talk about agriculture, the window is actually wide open. Lessons on agriculture gained from participating in livestock and dairy judging allow me to better understand those industries.”

 

In addition to skills and agricultural content, Adkison says FFA also gave her connections in the industry.

 

“Honestly, a lot of people I met in FFA I still know to this day,” she says. “I got my foot in the door of my first two jobs through Missouri FFA connections.”

 

Thinking back on her years in FFA as a high schooler, Adkison remembers how fast the time went by.

 

“Our tendencies are to test the waters slowly, but you only get four years to test the waters in high school,” she says. It’s amazing how fast that four years goes by.”

 

Her advice is to jump in feet first to take advantage of every opportunity possible.

 

“There are so many avenues you can test along the way,” Adkison says. “Don’t be afraid to test them all. It’s even so much more now than when I was in high school. FFA is so broad now that you can truly try your hand at so many different careers along the way. I’m a little jealous of the members coming through it now.”

 

Principles learned in FFA can also be of benefit in the future.

 

“Take the work ethic you learn when you’re in FFA, whether it’s in serving the community or working on your own SAE project, and apply it in the future,” Adkison says. “And remember you may not always be the smartest person in the room or the most eloquent speaker, but you can certainly outwork a lot of people. Don’t be afraid to do so.”

—By Brandelyn Martin Twellman

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Brush Up On Your Resume

Whether you’re interested in policy, mechanics, communications or sales, you’ll have to present a resumé to land your dream internship or job in the future. Here are some tips to help you get started:

 

GRAB THEIR ATTENTION

Present your name in an eye-catching way at the top of your resumé. Choose a font that’s legible but still stands out, and don’t forget to include important contact information below your name.

 

CHUNK IT

Separating your resumé into chunks using section headers allows the reviewer to easily skim. Bullet points also help keep the resumé brief and readable. Sometimes, they’re looking for only one section of content, so directing them to the desired information gives you an advantage.

 

BUT HOW DID YOU GROW?

It might be tempting to stop after listing relevant experience on a resumé, but how did you grow? The skills gained along the way tell a much better story than a list of titles and positions you’ve held. Be sure to explain what you gained after each experience.

 

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

It’s easy to include only experiences from one job or activities from one organization on your resumé, but be sure to think outside the box. What else could you showcase to present yourself as a well-rounded candidate for the job?

—By Brandelynn Martin Twellman

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Finding Real Solutions to Real Problems

Finding real solutions to real problems in the agricultural industry—that’s the purpose of agriscience projects in agricultural education and FFA.

 

“Agriscience projects give students real-world, hands-on experiences in agricultural enterprises,” says Lora Rapp, Rich Hill agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor. “Students use scientific principles and new technologies to solve problems related to agriculture and food.”

 

Rich Hill FFA member Katelynn Tourtillott set out to find a solution to one of those real-world problems last fall.

 

She started by noticing there was an issue.

 

“I come from a family of semi-truck drivers,” Tourtillott says. “My dad, grandfather, uncle and several of my cousins are truck drivers. Most of them suffer from lower back pain. I began to do research on this topic and noticed that many older farmers also suffer from back pain.”

 

Further research turned up a proposed answer. “It has been concluded that the vibrations from the machinery cause pain,” she explains.

 

Tourtillott decided to conduct an agriscience experiment to search for a solution that would help farmers and truck drivers like those in her family.

 

“I began to communicate with farmers around my area and decided to conduct an experiment on using shock-absorbing gloves,” she says. “I wanted to see if the gloves could lessen the lower back pain in farmers. I asked several different production agriculture farmers to wear the gloves while they were working. They wore them every day for two weeks, then went for two weeks without them. They logged their pain each morning and night on a pain chart.”

 

Her agriscience project took planning and preparation. Tourtillott says that after researching several different types of gloves, she moved forward with a pair that wouldn’t limit mobility so the farmers could wear them consistently.

 

Tourtillott was pleased when she analyzed her results.

 

“My favorite part of the project was hearing that the farmers actually got relief from the gloves,” she says. “One of the participants had back surgery a few years ago to try and help manage his pain. When he told me the gloves helped decrease the constant pain, it showed that my hard work paid off.”

 

In addition to finding a proposed solution to help with farmers’ back pain, Tourtillott experienced personal growth along the way.

 

“I improved my time management and planning skills during this project,” she explains. I prioritized what needed to be done first to ensure my project was accurate and simple for the farmers to participate in.”

 

Rapp explains that she promotes agriscience as well as the process behind the projects to her students because of the personal growth that can occur.

 

“It teaches students scientific methods and makes them think on a deeper level,” she says. I challenge my students to think outside the box or think of something that could benefit agriculture or their SAE.”

 

An added benefit of these projects is the effect they can have on local agriculture.

 

“Not all people will have the same results as the individuals used in Katelynn’s research,” Rapp says. “The farmers chosen have been experiencing back pain for a long time. Each individual has different tolerance levels for pain. But these results can give farmers an additional tool to use to help manage back pain.”

 

Tourtillott is hoping her results impact farmers in a way that benefits their individual operations as well as the industry as a whole.

 

“If they can use the gloves to help minimize and control their pain, they can maximize their productivity and efficiency in the fields,” she says. “I believe my results can help farmers find and use a tool to help them with their back pain. Farmers are essential to the world’s economy and food supply, so I want to help farmers do their job to their fullest potential.”

—By Brandelynn Martin Twellman

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#MOFFAisHOME

Brenden Kleiboeker

Brenden Kleiboeker, President

Nearly a year ago, the 2019-2020 state FFA officers chose the theme HOME for our year, Though we all came from different corners of the state, we all found our home in the Missouri FFA Association. We all had different life experiences, different joys and different trials.  However, each and every one of us found our home in Missouri FFA.

 

Little did we know that in the spring of 2020 HOME would have a much different meaning. This spring, nearly every one of the approximately 26,000 Missouri FFA members is confined to their home. FFA members have never been ones to back down from a challenge. This is a great time for FFA members to put extra time into their Supervised Agricultural Experience, or perhaps extra time into studying for a Career Development Event or Leadership Development Event.

 

Though times are uncertain, I am confident Missouri FFA membersare equipped with the leadership skills necessary to persevere. Even with nothing set in stone, after the battle has been won against this invisible enemy, I truly look forwardto later this year when members will celebrate the accomplishments of their HOME in Missouri FFA!

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Fight for A New Fate

Isaiah Massey

新しい運命のために戦う –  Fight for a new fate

 

To many people who know me they understand that I am a very big anime fan, and my favorite anime show to watch is Naruto.   For those who are not familiar with the show, Naruto is an orphaned child who possesses an immense amount of power that takes him a very long time to learn and master. As Naruto grew up he was isolated and treated like an outcast because people that knew of his powers feared him. One thing that I have always favored about Naruto is that he never gives up no matter how high the stakes are stacked against him.  Naruto’s optimism and passion for helping others is what truly makes him stand out. Ever since he was young, he wanted to become the Hokage of his village, or in relatable terms, Naruto had a goal of being his own version of a state officer.

 

One of Naruto’s most notable scenes was his fight against Neji. Neji was a child from a ninja clan where they are told that their life’                                                                                                                           s purpose was to be servants to another side of the clan that the only time they can be free from this service is when they pass on. Being told this throughout his entire life, Neji always had friction towards his sister Hinata whom was on the side of the clan that he had to serve even if it meant that it would cost him his life.  During this scene as he is telling Naruto about how his destiny has already been told to him, Naruto tells one of the most powerful quotes to have ever been said, “If you don’t like the hand that fates dealt you with, then fight for a new one.”  This phrase speaks volumes not just in a fictional world of chakra fused ninjas but this quote applies to our real lives as well.

 

All of us go through different seasons of life. People might try to put you in a ceiling cap because of the name you have, maybe even because of the person you were before. If we take a look in our world, there are people who don’t see agriculture in the same light that we do. In a world that is filled with curve balls such as COVID-19 or not being able to finish senior year, sometimes it feels like you’re defeated. But just because you feel defeat doesn’t mean you are defeated.  If you don’t like the hand that fates dealt you with, then fight for a new one! FFA members don’t give up hope, don’t give up now on the things you’ve worked so hard for. Just because you feel like the odds are stacked against you, does not mean you have lost.  We are the future of agriculture. No matter how hard the challenges may be, or how difficult of a curve ball life may throw at us, there is always still a reason to keep on fighting.  FFA members what fate will you fight for?

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Everything Happens For A Reason

Natalie Koch

Natalie Koch – VP

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.

 

Let me tell you a quick story. Rewind to April 2018 and the night before my area officer interviews. I sat in my room staring at my official dress debating whether or not I should take it to school the next day. If I just so happened to “forget” my official dress, I wouldn’t be able to interview. Yet when the morning rolled around, I knew I’d regret not giving it my all, and my advisors would be disappointed.

 

The school day was a blur. I was so nervous; I couldn’t think straight. Finally, as the night came it was time to interview. My knees were weak, and arms were heavy as Mr. Mertz would often say. I inhaled a deep breath and gave it my all. Two years later serving as an area officer holds some of the best memories I’ve had in the jacket. My life would be so different if I would have left my official dress at home. Everything truly happens for a reason. However, sometimes the reason might not be as clear or easy to see. Kind of like right now, as COVID-19 continues to take over the news and as events continue to cancel or postpone. As upsetting as these times may be, there is no better occasion to make some memories! Later in life, we might remember this as the time we spent with our siblings before leaving for college. Or, this might be the time we spent at our favorite fishing spot when normally we’d be in school. The reason might be unclear today, tomorrow or even a year down the road. However, we have the incredible opportunity to make the best out of the situation and create memories that will last a lifetime!

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Driving Home National FFA Week

More than 200 Missouri FFA members representing 34 chapters converged on Jefferson City Feb. 28 as Gov. Mike Parson proclaimed Feb. 22-29, 2020, National FFA Week. The proclamation was a joint effort with the governor’s office, Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Missouri FFA. On hand to address attendees were Gov. Parson; Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe, Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn and National FFA Vice President Yomar Roman.

 

Following the proclamation, the group broke into six pathways where speakers discussed the role those play in the ag industry. Speakers included Christopher Daubert, dean, University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, food science pathway; Kurt Boeckmann, natural resources pathway; Jeremy Schneider, John Deere, ag mechanics pathway; Amanda Cooper and Jessica Kueffer, MFA, Inc., ag business pathway; Dr. Bernd Eichenmueller, Boehringer-Ingelheim, animal system pathway;and Connie Davis, plant science pathway.

Photo Gallery from the National FFA Week Proclamation Event

Click the photos below to view larger.

FFA Week Proclamation Candid
FFA Week Proclamation Candid
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Ripple Effect

Former FFA members Kellie Bray and Kristie Bray-Larson tell you how FFA continues to impact their lives.

 

Whether in Washington, D.C., or Kansas City, Missouri, the ripple effects of Kellie Bray and Kristie Bray-Larson’s time in the blue jackets are still making an impact today. Bray and Larson, twin sisters from Cameron, Missouri, said their years in FFA have greatly influenced their professional careers.

 

Growing up on a row crop and beef cattle farm, Bray and Larson have always had a passion for agriculture. FFA allowed them to pair that passion with personal skills gained through countless experiences and opportunities throughout the organization.

 

Larson served in leadership roles and on committees in their chapter. She also served as chapter secretary when they were seniors. Bray was the chapter president their senior year and decided to continue her leadership roles at the state and national levels. She served as Missouri State FFA Secretary and worked for the National FFA Organization as a member of the Washington Leadership Conference staff in college.

 

While the pair moved throughout their FFA careers side-by-side, they say their best experiences came from paving their own paths and focusing on self-discovery.

 

“Official Dress doesn’t help you distinguish yourself when you have an identical twin,” Bray says. “We already looked alike and then we had to dress alike too when we went to chapter events or competitions. That sometimes made it hard for people to learn the differences between us, but it also gave us an opportunity to really think about how we were alike and also how we were different in what skills, abilities or interests we brought. I don’t envy the people who tried to tell us apart those days. It was tough.”

 

Learning how to embrace the title of cheerleader was another favorite experience, Larson says.

 

“We looked at all of the high school sports and organizations we were involved in, and we decided to focus on what best fit each of our individual interests,” she explains. “Instead of competing against each other for offices or leadership roles, I took on leadership in our high school class and she led our FFA chapter and eventually ran for state office. It was much more fun to cheer for her than to compete against her all the time.”

 

Looking back, Larson and Bray both realize their time in FFA greatly impacted their choices of study and current careers.

 

“We would not have studied agricultural education at Mizzou had it not been for our time in FFA and the encouragement from our advisors,” Bray says. “All of the connections we made during FFA have carried on through our personal lives and professional careers.”

 

Larson is the director of education for the American Royal Association in Kansas City, Missouri. She oversees the American Royal’s agricultural education programs—both onsite and in the classroom—as well as managing the scholarship program and being the museum curator. FFA knowledge has served her well as the director of education.

 

“Learning about the history and traditions of FFA, many of which coincide with the American Royal, have impacted me in this role,” she says.

 

Across the country, Bray is the chief of staff for CropLife America in Washington, D.C., the national trade association that represents makers, manufacturers and distributors of pesticide products for all types of agriculture. She has carried relationships made through FFA into this career.

 

“I interact daily with people in Washington, D.C., and around the country who are former FFA members, many of whom I knew when I was an active member,” she explains. “It creates an immediate connection with another person, and it’s fun to recount ‘old’ stories.”

 

Bray is also a member of the group that chartered the Washington, D.C., FFA Alumni Chapter.

 

“It’s been a lot of fun to connect with people of all ages who are FFA alumni now in Washington, D.C.,” she says.

 

The tangible skills gained through FFA have also continually impacted them. From public speaking and organizational leadership to parliamentary procedure and proper self-presentation learned through Official Dress, the two agree they still use these skills and lessons learned daily.

 

Reflecting on their time in blue jackets, both Larson and Bray agree on the pride they have in the organization and everything it instilled in them.

 

“Through the classroom work, especially in the shop, I learned I could do things I never thought I could, like welding or woodworking,” Bray says. “I remember those experiences now when I wonder whether or not I can accomplish something new or different. And it makes for interesting conversation when someone learns I can weld.”

 

“Tradition, history, ritual and community are all words that come to mind,” Larson adds. “I have so much respect for what the blue corduroy jacket stands for. I valued being part of a national organization that is dedicated to the future of agriculture. I also truly appreciate how Supervised Agricultural Experience projects teach members about the value of hard work and responsibility. All of those characteristics will help them be successful members of society, regardless of their future career.”

 

—By Brandelyn Martin for Missouri FFA Today

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What’s Your Role?

Thousands upon thousands of miles away from home, Jamar Roman cultivates his passion for agriculture in fellow FFA members.

 

As a national FFA vice president, the Puerto Rico native spent time in Missouri last month helping members celebrate National FFA Week. Even though agriculture is different in his home country compared to Missouri and other states he has visited, he says as all have the same ultimate goal. “(We’re working to) educate a new generation of students,” Roman explains. “What is agriculture, what can we learn about agriculture and what is so important about it? It’s a different way of learning, but it’s not different in the way we apply it because we all help for the best and for the good of society.”

 

Having grown up on a hog operation, Roman also raised fruits and vegetables as part of his Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) project. He says an SAE is about an experience whether regardless of whether it’s inside or outside the classroom.

 

“It’s about understanding all the roles of the work you do,” he says. “Agriculture doesn’t just start with a seed or start with a fruit in the grocery store. Agriculture is not only cows, pigs and strawberries. That mechanic in the diesel industry is also part of agriculture. The owner of a grocery store is part of agriculture, everything. SAE’s show a student what agriculture is and how they can be involved in the industry.”

 

As part of his year-long service, Roman will travel to 14 different states sharing with members how FFA can make a difference in their lives and help them discover their passion.

 

“FFA creates kids with values and good skills and techniques as a worker,” Roman says. “FFA is grading a student with the skills of leadership, respect, love, hard work and dedication and among all things, passion for agriculture.”

 

—By Joann Pipkin

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Stop, and Think

Andrew Moore

Andrew Moore – VP

I don’t know how it is at your home, but when the temperature starts to drop at Moore Farms that can only mean one thing — baby calves! The other day I was watching a newborn calf in our barn take its first few steps and try to nurse from its mother. To this point the cow had done a great job cleaning her calf and nudging him to get up and walk around. However, when the calf finally was ready to nurse, the mother didn’t like it and kept moving. After more than 30 minutes of the baby calf chasing the cow trying to get some milk, the mother finally held still and the calf had his first meal. It occurred to me, the cow only relied on her motherly instincts for so long, until those instincts failed her. It was instinctive for her to lick and nudge the calf, but not to hold still and let the calf do what his instincts told him to do. Sometimes in life, we just need to hold still. For many of us, it is instinctive to work, and that’s a good thing! However, it might pay off to stop, think, reflect, think some more, and then act. Impulsive decisions are almost always bad decisions. Today, that cow stands still nearly every time the calf needs to eat. In a sense, she learned from her mistake. Sometimes our instincts won’t fail us, but often we just need to stop and think.

 

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How Dirty Are YOUR Boots?

Matthew Morgan

I pulled on my rubber boots and grabbed my screwdriver as I headed to my first Soils Career Development Event (CDE) practice of the year. The temperature was below freezing, and it didn’t take me very long to realize that I had no clue what I was doing. My teammates and I were already thinking about quitting before the first competition was over. Our team received almost dead last that day, but we decided to make a goal to move on to state, and we were determined to reach that goal.

 

As we studied and practiced more, we slowly saw improvement. We kept with it and attended many more practice CDEs. With every contest, our scores got better and we felt more confident. We went to districts with one thing in mind, which was state. As we patiently waited for our results, we started to second-guess ourselves and our ability to judge soils. Finally, we received our results and found out we qualified for state! We went to state and rocked that soils contest.

 

After state, my teammates and I looked back through the year and realized how close we were to giving up. We realized we could have missed all of the friendships and learning experiences that we had gained. Sometimes you have to put on your rubber boots, get your hands dirty and put in the extra work to accomplish your task. You, too, will find out that with a little bit of luck and a whole lot of persistence and determination, you can and will meet all of your goals.

 

 

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Explore Agriculture

The agricultural career landscape is ever changing, and students have more career options to choose from now than ever before. Whether interested in welding, writing, mechanics or sales, the National FFA Organization has a tool to help students navigate the possibilities and get on the right track: AgExplorer.

 

Through a partnership between National FFA and Discovery Education, a tool to help FFA members navigate careers in agriculture was developed. The following career focus areas have been narrowed down for students to explore: Agribusiness Systems, Agricultural Education, Animal Systems, Biotechnology Systems, Environmental Service Systems, Food Products and Processing Systems, Natural Resources Systems, Plant Systems and Power, Structural and Technical Systems.

 

Students can either learn more about each area and its careers on their own or utilize the Career Finder quiz to be matched with options that may be a good fit for their skills and interests.  This resource takes the pairing a step further to suggest Supervised Agricultural Experience ideas related to their specific results.

 

Agricultural education teachers can even bring these tools into their classroom through educator resources provided by National FFA, including lesson plans, virtual field trips and classroom activities to further career exploration in agriculture.

 

More information on AgExplorer and Career Finder can be found at https://agexplorer.com.

—By Brandelyn Martin Twellman

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Get An Early Start

Industry professionals share their tips for students exploring agricultural careers.

From animal and plant science to sales and communication courses, agriculture students get a taste of diversity in the industry throughout their high school years. No matter which classes spark their interest and fuel their passion for agriculture, students can be confident in the opportunities available.

 

“If you have an interest in agriculture, the industry has a place for you,” says Jessica Kueffer, recruitment and employee development manager for MFA, Inc. “Whether you find expertise on the farm or in an office, it takes all kinds to make our industry thrive.”

 

Kueffer says this presents the opportunity for students to find a niche in the industry.

 

“As a student, you’re exposed to so much, so take a step back and ask yourself, ‘What do I enjoy seeing, doing or learning about most?’ ” she explains. “Then, look to higher education, whether it’s a technical school, community college or university, to build on the experience you’ve had thus far. If you enjoy what you’re learning about and working on, you’ll be building a career and not just working a job.”

 

Now more than ever, quick learners are in high demand.

 

“Our industry is quickly becoming more technology-driven, and there is a demand for students who have the skills to quickly learn these advances,” says Colton Spencer, who is a senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia and served as a student worker for MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) Career Services the past two years.

 

In addition to soft skills such as public speaking and time management, skill requirements vary by profession.

 

“Specific skill development is highly dependent on the sector of the industry you choose,” Kueffer says. “Certifications, on top of higher education, can really set applicants apart. In today’s top talent we see certifications achieved in every realm of business, whether it’s in agronomy, precision technology, business, finance, human resources or sales.”

 

Kueffer notes that desired skills often go beyond what can be taught.

 

“Top skills are often related to the company’s values,” she says. “They are personal abilities that are not taught but lived out every day. At MFA, we believe that we can teach you the technical knowledge you need to succeed, but we can’t teach you honesty, accountability or communication. No matter where you go within the industry, you’ll need these three traits.”

 

While FFA is a good starting point for career exploration and personal growth, it doesn’t stop there.

 

“As a professional in employee development, I’m a firm believer in the idea of continuous learning,” she says. “Companies will hire you for who you are and how you fit with the company culture. You’ll excel in the role because of the gifts of knowledge you offer in the position. When you continuously focus on building your skills and performing a job better than the day before, you’ll find success.”

 

Students must be intentional about this continuous process.

 

“The advice I’d offer here: go to the class, attend the training, ask the questions and challenge yourself to grow every single day,” Kueffer adds.

 

This intentionality can start with seeking out opportunities in FFA. Spencer said involvement in the organization can help students explore agricultural careers and better prepare them for the workforce.

 

“I would say general advice is to become involved in every possible event through FFA, which will help students search for careers without even realizing it,” he said. “Career Development Events and other trainings are essential components of FFA that allow students to find their passions within the industry.”

 

Matt Arri, director of MU CAFNR Career Services, says taking advantage of professional development opportunities in high school could have a lasting impact.

 

“While the job market is very robust, the competition for the best positions is still very strong,” he says. “The more well-rounded an FFA member is, the higher the likelihood of them obtaining an internship while an undergraduate or landing their dream job after graduation.”

 

FFA can also be used to build connections with industry professionals.

 

“First, build your network,” Kueffer says. “Never be shy to talk to someone within the industry about their experience, their education or their journey.  Then, build your resume and practice talking about your own experience, education and journey. Learning to tell your story will become easy.”

 

With many diverse opportunities in agriculture, students are encouraged to use their FFA background, network of connections and hands-on experience to explore multiple careers in the industry.

 

“We encourage students to obtain as many internships as possible to help them determine which industry and type of position they may want to have before they graduate,” Arri says. “We encourage everyone from freshmen to seniors to network with industry professionals at career fairs and through other means to learn more about career opportunities available to them.”

 

“My take-home message for students is to be active early,” Spencer adds. “Don’t wait to take advantage of opportunities. Act now and work to improve your skill set each and every day.”

—By Brandelyn Martin Twellman

—Photos courtesy of MFA, Inc.

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