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Agricultural News

National FFA Advisor's Oklahoma Visit Highlights National FFA Week

Tue, 18 Feb 2014 15:58:50 CST

National FFA Advisor's Oklahoma Visit Highlights National FFA Week

Dr. Steve Brown, Education Program Specialist, Office of Vocational & Adult Education, U.S. Dept. of Education, is spending four days in Oklahoma as a part of National FFA Week, February 15-22. Brown also serves as National FFA Advisor and Chairman of the National FFA Board of Directors. He sat down to visit with Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays about the importance of FFA and National FFA Week. (You can hear the full interview by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story. Brown will also appear on this week's "In the Field" segment Saturday on News 9 about 6:40 a.m.)

"I believe it gives the chapters and the members an opportunity to showcase what they do educationally as well as service and leadershipwise in their communities. And, also, it's a way to say 'thank you' to their community and school at the local level for what they do to support the programs and activities of the organization."

As the National FFA Advisor, Brown says he not only provides leadership to the organization and its staff, but also to its board of directors as its chairman. He emphasized that it is the board that guides the organization by looking to the future and making provisions for existing and new programs. An example of that forward-looking philosophy is the change in emphasis of the organization as the Future Farmers of America to simply FFA.

"FFA, while it remembers and still appreciates and recognizes its agricultural and farming heritage, we realize that as things continue to change, that agriculture is much bigger than just production agriculture. It involves everything from horticulture to landscaping to forestry to beekeeping to raising livestock to a lot of industries across this country. And, so, therefore in order to make sure that we are providing the services needed for all our students we needed to broaden the organization as well as broaden ourprograms."

He said the broad base of FFA includes agricultural, leadership, service and experiential work-based learning.

"All of those components working together help to form and build that student as well as help build and form school-based agricultural education."

Brown says that in looking toward the future FFA is taking a close look at science, mathematics and engineering and how much of that is already being taught in the FFA curriculum. He says that focus helps him set his hopes high for the organization's future.

"Lots of times what people do not recognize is the value and importance and amount of that that's being taught in our curriculum, being taught in the FFA organization and how important that is to the future of this country.

"My hope is I'd like to see us at 750,000 to maybe a million FFA members in my tenure. I don't know if we'll reach that, but it's a good goal to have. And, because I realize the value of what the organization and what the agricultural education can offer the students."

During his stay in Oklahoma, Brown will visit numerous supporters of the FFA program all across the state.

"The agriculture industry as a whole supports FFA and supports the agricultural industry very well. They support our students. And, building those partnerships, understanding those relationships, as well as understanding their needs because they are future employers of our students. To make sure our FFA members understand what is needed for the future and prepare for that future so they can be well-rounded, well-prepared employees for the agricultural businesses across this nation."

In days when school budgets are stretched to the breaking point and the focus is on college preparation at every turn, Brown says FFA doesn't need to fight to refocus that plan because, "I think it's already a part of that plan. We have a high percentage of our students who continue their education at the post-secondary and four-year institution level. They recognize the value and importance of having a college degree or having some post-secondary training. And, so, therefore, our students naturally, in many cases, understand that and want to pursue that. So, that is important to our program and important to their success."


Ron Hays talks with Steve Brown about the expanding value of the FFA program.
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