Future Farmers Keep America Growing

Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut

Every year since 1947, chapters of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) around the country have celebrated National FFA Week. The date was selected to include George Washington’s birthday in honor of his legacy as a farmer and agriculturist. FFA Week, February 18 to 25 this year, is always observed from the Saturday to Saturday that includes Washington’s Birthday, February 22.

The FFA motto proudly promotes:

Learning to Do,
Doing to Learn.
Earning to Live,
Living to Serve.

Rarely have so many Americans owed so much to so small a group of their citizens. Farm families make up only 2 percent of the U.S. population. Yet these energetic and resourceful people dot America’s rural landscape with 2.2 million farms. They grow and raise so much food that nearly 1/3 of all U.S. farm income is earned from exports. American farmers are truly leaders in feeding the world.

There are more than a dozen FFA clubs flourishing within a 50 mile radius of Jamestown. They include such nearby locations as Randolph and Ellicottville, Clymer, Sherman, Ashville and Cassadaga Valley. Local chapters can be found at https://www.ffa.org/.

Last year alone, the National FFA Organization awarded $2.2 million in scholarships for higher education. In 2017, FFA will offer students a list of more than 1,800 scholarships. In order for the nation’s farming youth to take their place in the agricultural world of the 21st Century, farmers must also be scientists, naturalists and informed stewards of the land and the nation’s unmatched natural resources.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension program also continues to encourage cooperation between the FFA and 4-H Clubs in local shows, state-wide and national competitions, and in their support for the entire farming community.

FFA trains America’s youth in how to keep the nation’s agriculture one of the most powerful and productive in the world. The FFA divides Service into three kinds: direct, indirect and advocacy. During National FFA Week local chapters will showcase Direct Service by identifying a community need. Students, for example, may volunteer at a food kitchen. Some have worked with community senior centers to create an adopt-a-grandparent program that lasted well beyond FFA Week. Indirect Service activity in some communities has channeled food resources to meet a local need, like a canned food drive that helped a nearby food pantry. Some have offered help in community beautification projects.

Advocacy Service in farming is always a key issue for FFA. One of their aims is to train tomorrow’s farmers to influence policymakers and elected officials, to advocate in support of local farmers in their important work of filling America’s markets, pantries and kitchens.

Thanking FFA supporters is always an important part of FFA Week. America’s young farmers want to share their gratitude with their parents, teachers and sponsors. In return, the Jamestown Gazette is proud to take this opportunity to thank America’s future farmers, and all of today’s working farmers across the region, for their tireless work and their crucial role in keeping our local communities strong and healthy.