Based off of what the National FFA website says, it states that “FFA is an intracurricular student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership. It is one of the three components of agricultural education.” We’re going to break down each section of what this statement says to determine, what is FFA?
“FFA is an intracurricular…”
I’m sure you’ve heard that sports are an extracurricular activity. Which means that the majority of the activity takes place after school. For example, in basketball, a player will learn all the skills that they need by attending practice and studying clips and drills after school. There really isn’t a class devoted to training high schoolers to play basketball, other than a short unit in P.E. Basketball is extracurricular because the majority of the training and learning takes place after the bell rings. An intracurricular activity is something that you learn inside a classroom or performing skills during instruction time. FFA is an intracurricular organization. While yes meetings and CDE practices may take place after school, there are classes devoted to the study of agriculture, and a major part of the curriculum is leadership and communication skills that directly correlates with the study of FFA. While you may spend extra time out of class preparing for creed speaking, you learned the presentation and public speaking skills in class. Same as, staying after school for livestock evaluation practice, but learning the different parts and different breeds on animals.
“...Student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership…”
Back in 1925, the Future Farmers of Virginia was formed by a group of farm boys, who wanted to start an organization to share with people who cared for farming as much as they did. It wasn’t until 1928 that a “farming club” became a national thing. Fast forward to today when the organization is now known as “The National FFA Organization” to show the diversity in the students that are involved with the group while still keeping the original FFA letters. FFA is still a group of young adults who have a passion for agriculture, but not every student is going to become a farmer. There are still courses and competitions that focus around animal judging and mechanics (I recommend every FFA member try at least one), but there are also courses and competitions focused around premier leadership, personal growth, and career success. The competitions in FFA are known as career development events which perfectly fit their purpose. Each one of the 40+ CDE’s are focused around a different career path but are beneficial for any profession. While you may fall in love with FFA through your high school career, those 4 years are the only time you can compete in these CDE’s. This is due to the beginning of this quote that says that “FFA is a student organization.”
“...It is one of the three components of agricultural education.”
To have a well-rounded experience in agricultural education students are advised to participate in each circle of the three circle model. This model stands for the three major aspects of agricultural education. Those circles are classroom/ laboratory instruction, experiential learning, and leadership. While it is possible for a student to just be in an agricultural class, it is most beneficial if the student has a supervised agricultural experience (SAE), and is involved with the intracurricular organization that correlates with Ag Ed (FFA). Since this is an intracurricular organization it only makes sense for it to be a major part of agricultural education.
So, after breaking down the statement of “what is FFA”, I’ve come to realize that FFA is one of the hardest things for me to explain. Even though National FFA is correct in their response to the question about FFA, there is still a lot more opportunities and events that fall under the organization.
FFA has over 90 years of history that can be researched intently and is vital to the structure of our organization today. Previously in the year, a writer for Everything Agriculture published a quick study guide about important dates in FFA. You can click here to view it. If you would like more in-depth dates and facts travel to the National FFA website page by clicking here, and learn about our amazing heritage.
The National FFA Organization has many opportunities for students throughout their educational career. There are numerous leadership conferences that students can attend to improve and develop leadership skills, that they can carry throughout their FFA or professional careers. FFA also gives out more than 2 Million dollars worth of scholarships annually. Through the FFA students also have the opportunity to travel around the country to attend Career Development Events or conventions. By clicking here you can view more opportunities that are provided by the FFA.
FFA is a student-led organization. Which means that students hold leadership roles and help in planning and accomplishing a program of activities. While the students may do quite a bit of the requirements that make a chapter, region, or state successful, there is always an advisor that advises from time to time and directs the students in keeping them organized. Agricultural educators play a major role in the development of FFA and its members. To learn more about the connection with agriculture education look up the National Association of Agricultural Educators website, or click here to travel to their website.
Vice President and Editor for Everything Agriculture