The Crook County FFA Chapter will celebrate The Crook County FFA Chapter will celebrate National FFA Week Feb. 17-24

 - Members of the Crook County FFA Chapter attended the National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana, last October.

FFA, formally the Future Farmers of America, is the nation's largest youth leadership organization in schools. With more than 650,000 members in nearly 8,600 FFA chapters across the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, there are few communities that are not exposed to FFA. However, even with the presence of an FFA chapter, many still don't know what FFA is all about.

Members are exposed to a variety of opportunities in all areas of production agriculture, sales, marketing and processing in a three-circled model that covers three essential areas: Classroom instruction, FFA and Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE).

Members must be enrolled in an agricultural course that allows them to receive instruction in various aspects of agriculture. Students who opt to join the FFA chapter are then given the opportunity to take what they have learned in the classroom and practice it in competitive activities.

Classes that members can take range from comprehensive courses such as Introduction to Agriculture and more specialized courses like Animal and Plant Science, Pre-Veterinary Practices and Agribusiness Management. Some students select a pathway to follow in school, while others take a wide variety of classes from the school's offering to broaden their knowledge.

There are two types of competitions that members can participate in in the FFA: Career Development Events (CDE) and Leadership Development Events (LDE).

CDEs include a number of activities that are focused on skills that can be directly linked to agricultural careers. Examples are Agricultural Sales, Ag Marketing Plan, Veterinary Science and Livestock Evaluation.

LDEs are events that focus on the members' development in areas such as public speaking and their knowledge of parliamentary law.

The third piece of the puzzle is SAE. Each member must maintain an agricultural project that allows them to take the knowledge gained in the classroom and practiced in the CDEs and LDEs, and apply it in a real activity.

Many students choose to raise animals for exhibit at county and state fair, but others have SAE that are centered around their involvement in working for farms and ranches, veterinarians, food processors, or any number of different ag businesses. Still other members perform long-lasting research activities or focus their attention on exploring various careers as their SAE.

Members that involve themselves in all aspects of the program (instruction, FFA and SAE) leave the program with a broad understanding of the importance of agriculture that they can share with those they come in contact with.

More than that, they gain many qualities of leadership through the various aspects of the program.

When asked what leadership means to them, member Abby McNary responded, "To me, leadership is the act of inspiring others through showing them a way that you happen to be familiar with. You don't dictate, you participate. You are the person people will go to when they need assistance because you are able to help them understand and become leaders themselves. A leader is someone who, no matter what, will show people the light at the end of the tunnel after a difficult time. They are honest and determined. They can empathize with others and make them feel supported. They are deserving of respect because they have done everything they can to earn it. They also have respect for the people they are leading because they believe that that is just as important as being respected themselves."

Our goal in the Crook County FFA Chapter is to develop leaders in not only the agricultural fields, but in our schools and communities. That is our focus, that is our goal, and we are working hard to attain it.

The week of Feb. 17-24 is National FFA Week, but FFA is a year-round activity that never stops. We continue activities throughout the summer, and go, go, go during every season.

Beginning now, we hope to use this opportunity in the Central Oregonian to inform you all of what is happening in our chapter so that you can better understand us.

We hope to see you out and about in our community and beyond!

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