Photos by Becky Phillips, WSU Today
 
 
More than 2,500 FFA members, teachers and parents are assembling on campus this week for the 78th annual state FFA convention. Winners of state competitions in public speaking, dairy foods, meats, livestock and more will get the opportunity to compete for national awards next October.

“The best of the best here will go on to Indianapolis
to the national convention next fall,” said Marv Kleene, associate professor of agricultural education. He has served as campus coordinator for the convention for more than 20 years.

FFA is a high school leadership program that is integrated into the agricultural education program at about 200 high schools around the state. “It’s a great opportunity for kids to develop their own skills and abilities and confidence to make their own way in the world,” he said.

FFA is the leadership component of agricultural education programs at the high school level. It is combined with classroom instruction and hands-on learning opportunities called supervised agricultural experiences.

“Students are learning about the skills
and science in the classroom, but they are also learning about career opportunities,” Kleene said.

The name of the national organization was shortened from Future Farmers of America to FFA about 20 years ago to reflect a change in focus from teaching production agriculture to the teaching of agricultural science.

“We may be producing people who will be farming in the future,” Kleene said, “but we also are producing kids who will be in agribusiness, making agricultural policy and on the scientific frontiers of agriculture.  It’s a lot more than farming.”