By Morgan Anderson, OCJ FFA reporter
Each year, tens of thousands of FFA members across the United States flood the streets of Indianapolis, Ind. with the iconic “sea of blue” corduroy FFA jackets. It is hard to believe it was not even a hundred years ago that this look did not exist.
On Nov. 20, 1928, the “Future Farmers of America” was established in Kansas City, Mo., which subsequently led to the first-ever National FFA Convention being held there, too. There were 33 delegates from 18 states (Ohio included!) in attendance when Leslie Applegate of New Jersey was elected as the first National President.
In the last hundred years, what started off as a few farm boys sporting the blue and gold as the “Future Farmers of America” has since grown into a diverse organization that represents nearly 1 million members nationwide. In fact, in 1988, the Future Farmers of America changed its name to the “National FFA Organization” to reflect the growing diversity in agriculture we see today.
As we draw near to the 96th National FFA Convention, I, as Ohio’s National Officer Candidate, am unbelievably proud of our organization. We are dynamic and rooted in tradition that embraces progress of our lifestyle, industry and world — all while being student-led. How humbling is that?
When preparing to be a National Officer, as many past candidates will say, there is a lot of work behind the scenes that goes into it: soul work, dusting off both hard and soft skills and so much more.
But even with the early mornings and late nights, I find myself always thankful for any chance I get to put on the outfit I know best. Thankful for, what could be, my final few moments as a small ripple in the sea of blue. Although I may not know what the future holds come Nov. 4 when the ballot is announced, I can say confidently that I am proud of where I have come.
I grew up in a small town southeast of Columbus in the rural row crop country and grazing hillsides of Fairfield County. Living off the highway, I’ve grown up teetering between the urban sprawl of a metro city and the foothills of southeast Ohio’s Appalachia. To say this juxtaposition has made an impression on my understanding of the agriculture industry and our food systems as we know it is an understatement. I live in a place where both food waste and food insecurity co-exist, and likewise, a place where agriculture is both celebrated and misunderstood. This disconnect is what fascinates me. How can I do my part to ensure that people see the invisible string that connects all of us? From farm to fork and all the many moving pieces in between, I want to connect the dots that we, as a society, sometimes don’t realize are there.
My curiosity and drive to understand something greater in our world makes me one of 945,988. Because for FFA members across the nation, this intellectual thought is planted in the classroom, tested through competitive simulations and successfully understood through hands-on Supervised Agricultural Experiences.
Now, more than ever before, our cutting-edge world needs cutting-edge students, and agricultural education/FFA is the absolute means to do so. We need every role in the workforce, but if we can instill agricultural education, FFA and career technical education values it adds an extra layer of enhancement to the world.
I am a journalist by trade and storyteller by heart, and I owe this career choice and personal mission, largely, to FFA and my time spent in the agricultural education classroom. As I do when I write my stories or meet someone new, I seek to ask the right questions. If I were to become a National Officer, I understand deeply that I do not know everything, and funnily enough, I hope I never do. There is so much value in learning from those around you in the spaces that you are invited into. I hope that if I do become an officer, I would always ask the right questions, so I can learn more about our world, our people and the stories that connect us all. Because truly, it’s one big invisible string.
With a heart of gratitude, it has been my greatest honor representing Ohio FFA as our 2023 National Officer Candidate. To those who have played a part in my story up until this point, there aren’t enough ways to say “thank you” that would suffice my appreciation. So, for now, thank you.
The 96th National FFA Convention & Expo will take place in Downtown Indianapolis from Nov. 1 to Nov. 4. The official ballot of the 2023-2024 National FFA Officer Team will be announced at the conclusion of the seventh general session.