Editor’s Note: Yesterday, Secretary Vilsack had the opportunity to speak with some of our nation’s brightest young leaders at the National FFA Organization’s State Presidents’ Conference. He discussed USDA’s efforts to revitalize the rural economy and recognized the officers for their commitment to leadership, personal growth and career success. Below is a blog post submitted to USDA by Clay Sapp, 2012-13 National FFA President.
By Clay Sapp 2012-13 National FFA President
This week is the National FFA Organization’s 2013 State Presidents’ Conference (SPC) in Washington, D.C. At SPC, state FFA officers are exposed to new ideas, meet new people and expand their perspectives as they sharpen their advocacy skills for tomorrow. Two officers from each state, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are represented at this year’s conference, which carries the theme, “Suit up.”
At SPC, state officers undergo intense leadership training and develop a solid understanding of partner relationships. Their training is used to gather grassroots student input from across the nation on the future of FFA and agriculture education.
On Wednesday, our state officers were able to learn about key issues facing rural America, agriculture and education during a White House Rural Council meeting. We heard from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, executive director of Let’s Move and senior policy advisor on nutrition Sam Kass and senior policy advisor for rural affairs Doug McKalip.
As the National FFA President, it was truly inspiring to see the interaction between our FFA members and our nation’s leaders as they had an open conversation about the future of rural America. State officers asked a wide array of questions that ranged from the Farm Bill to the future of career and technical education.
One key point made by all speakers yesterday was that our generation will be tasked with tackling many of the challenges facing rural America, agriculture and education. It will be people like us, suited up in blue FFA jackets today, leaders of tomorrow, that will take these challenges head on.
As state and national officers, it is incredibly important that we bring this message of opportunity back to the members we serve in our homes states. After working with this stellar group of state officers for the past few days, I know our future rests in diligent, passionate and committed hands.
As FFA members, we wear a wide array of “suits”— agriculture educator, speaker, mentor. It is up to us to decide what to do after we take off these blue corduroy jackets and begin our careers. Regardless of what future suits we wear, it is our challenge – our commitment – to suit up for agriculture.
Follow the 2013 SPC on Twitter at #FFASPC13.
Write a Response
Your blog brings back fond memories of a similar trip I made to the USDA here in Washington, D.C. during my term as President of the WV FFA Association (1992-93). This experience was influential in my career path as I am proud to be a USDA employee -- still "suited up" for agriculture! Best wishes on your future endeavors.
When I was growing up, we didn't have an FFA in my town. We had to go look for one 20 miles away. Then when I went to my first meeting, I was made fun of because I didn't live on a "real" farm. It was an apple orchard where we raised goats and kept bees. True, it wasn't a huge operation, but I learned alot from my dad. I returend the jacket after a few meetings and my parents said "thanks, we'll take it from here".
I joined the Army when I turned 17 and retired last year. I work at the USDA now and I still have alot of respect for farmers and how things grow. I've learned thats its not entirely what you know about farming, but its how you apply that knowledge.