Macon, GA – It was a celebration of the past and present at this year’s Georgia FFA convention as the organization celebrated 90 years since its beginning, allowing the current FFA students to get to see how the organization has changed into what it is today.
“I think it’s neat for the students to understand that we used to look different, that we used to sound different, that agriculture used to be different, and what they can do is pretty eye opening because if you would have asked those folks 90 years ago about driving a tractor with a GPS or having women owning farms I don’t think anybody would have believed it but look where we are,” says Ben Lastly, Executive Secretary for the Georgia FFA Organization.
Georgia’s FFA Organization is the third largest FFA organization in the nation and continues to grow each and every year.
“It’s really exciting,” says Brooks Fletcher, North Region Vice President. “We’ve seen monumental growth. Over the past 20 years, Georgia FFA has continued to grow. It’s really exciting this year, we’ll break over 42000 FFA members in the state.”
Since its start in 1928, the organization has had a focus of shaping the future leaders of the agriculture industry. Giving them leadership skills and career development skills that will help them in whatever career they choose in life.
“The thing I like to tell folks about FFA is that it’s going to prepare them for success regardless of where their career is in the future,” says Chip Bridges, State FFA Advisor. “The leadership skills, the personal development skills, the instructional components in FFA prepare them for whatever they choose to do in the future.”
To help really get started, the convention had a special guest. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue spoke to the more than 6000 that were there. His message was on the importance of resiliency and perseverance and how the FFA has done that now for 90 years and needs to continue that into the future.
“The principles they teach and the relationships they build among themselves and with the ag teachers in those schools are bonds that will last a lifetime,” says Sonny Perdue. “Ask any alumni of FFA and they’ll tell you how important it was in shaping their whole careers and lives in many ways, teaching them the principles in which to live.”
There was also another special guest, and that was Governor Nathan Deal. Deal was there and made history as he signed new legislation into law. Senate Bill 330 or the Green Agricultural Education Act was passed by the general assembly during this past session.
“Now across the state, any school system that offers an ag course, also must offer FFA and SAE as part of the instructional model, so basically makes our model of instruction, it puts it in legislative code, which is very big for us, but also another component of the bill allows agriculture education to take that three model of instruction and duplicate it into the elementary grades K-5,” says Bridges.
The bill passed in the general assembly without opposition, showing just how much support the FFA and agriculture has here in the state of Georgia.
“We’re very thankful for the support we have across the state of agriculture education from school administrators, superintendents and principles, the legislature, the department of education, the community, the businesses all of the support that we have make it possible to promote and grow the FFA,” says Bridges.
By: John Holcomb