Syngenta Supports FFA Ambassador Program

Syngenta_BiotechAs the pressure on natural resources increases from feeding, fueling and clothing a growing global population, the agricultural industry needs a stronger chorus of voices to tell its story effectively. With support from Syngenta and other sponsors, the National FFA Organization has developed the National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassadors program to help meet this challenge.

“The FFA Ag Ambassador program helps educate a broad audience on food production,” said J.R. Peterson, district manager at Syngenta. “It is critical that our best and brightest young people can effectively communicate the importance of agriculture in public settings.”

Each year, 20 college students from across the country are selected to participate in the program. These Ag Ambassadors serve for one year, speaking at local schools, colleges, FFA chapters, civic organizations and Farm Bureau groups about the importance of sustainable agriculture in their communities. In return, they receive a $1,000 scholarship, a digital camera, the use of an LCD projector and compensation for travel.

Applications for the 2014-2015 Collegiate FFA Agriculture Ambassador team are now available. College sophomores, juniors, seniors or graduate students pursuing agricultural degrees can apply for the program. All ambassadors must be former FFA members, current collegiate FFA members or members of the National FFA Alumni Association.

Applicants must submit a video presentation of themselves to showcase facilitation skills. They also must answer essay questions and provide references by the April 15, 2014, entry deadline. Selected ambassadors will attend two training sessions: The first is August 4 to 8, 2014, in North Carolina, where they will spend part of the week at the Syngenta facility in Greensboro. The second will take place in December 2014.

“Our goal is to grow these students personally and professionally through their experience as ambassadors,” says Ryan Amaral, an FFA education specialist. “Throughout their year of service, students are learning more about agriculture, building a strong network of peer and professional contacts in the industry, and telling the inspirational story of agriculture.”

The 2013/2014 Ag Ambassador team, which is featured on the Syngenta Thrive website, is currently hard at work helping to promote the industry.

Sam Tauchen, a senior at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls, says, “When I share my story of agriculture, I realize what I am doing is bigger than myself. The program has been a blessing, and I am honored to join a group of people who are committed to improving the future of agriculture.”

2014 National Agriculture Education Summit

ffaHundreds of agricultural education thought leaders, higher-education executives and business professionals will converge on Indianapolis next week for a three-day summit focusing on the future of experiential learning in school-based agricultural education.

A joint project of the National Council for Agricultural Education and the National FFA Organization, the 2014 National Agriculture Education Summit is Jan. 28-30. The theme of this year’s event, held at the Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel at Keystone Crossing located at 8787 Keystone Crossing, will focus on renewal of experiential learning and supervised agricultural experiences within agricultural education.

During the three-day summit, updates will be provided from national agricultural education organizations, including the American Association for Agricultural Education, on plans to support local implementation of supervised agriculture experiences for all students. Highlights of how educators have creatively engaged students in experiential learning regardless of backgrounds will be shared and discussions will focus on resources available and resources needed to help educators overcome barriers to engage more students.

The summit also provides National FFA Organization leaders the opportunity to get together with national agricultural education groups and discuss future programming and activities. It also provides the opportunity for FFA leaders to provide updates on state and national FFA officer training programs; the National FFA Convention and Expo, which is the single-largest annual student gathering in the nation and last year drew nearly 63,000 students; national award and leadership programs; teacher training; and best practices to gain increased adoption of the Agricultural Career Network, a national online portal for students to use to develop their educational and career timelines, document awards and achievements, apply for scholarships and pursue careers in the agriculture industry.

The 2014 National Agriculture Education Summit will be streamed online at iHigh.com/FFA and action can be followed on Twitter at #AgEdSummit.

2013 FFA Chapter Challenge Begins

ffaFFA members in 15 states can now register for the 2013 FFA Chapter Challenge presented by Monsanto.

The 2013 FFA Chapter Challenge, challenges FFA members to make meaningful connections with local agriculturists with a new twist.

FFA chapters will now compete in one of two contests with the FFA Chapter Challenge: option one requires FFA members to interview and document local agriculturists who then vote for a chapter, and option two requires FFA members build a portfolio of agriculturist and community member interviews, develop a social media plan and film a video promoting agricultural awareness. Two FFA chapters, one from each contest area, will win the grand prize to attend October’s 86th National FFA Convention & Expo in Louisville, Ky.

Before FFA chapters are eligible for the program, they must register online.

Other prizes will be awarded to each state’s top ten FFA chapters in either category for the FFA Chapter Challenge. Those prizes, a line of credit for use on FFA expenses such as supplies or national convention registration fees, range from $2,500 to $100. As a sponsor of the program, Monsanto will provide more than $300,000 in incentives.

Winners will be announced in early April.

Career & Technical Education Threatened In Missouri

Last week I shared on AgWired how Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in the state of Missouri are being threatened by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) new Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP 5). MSIP 5 removes the priority for organizations like the FFA from a students high school education.

Bringing attention to this issue has got a lot of people talking about it and what they can do to help preserve vocational programs for the future of Missouri’s youth. The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association has done just that by releasing a Call To Action In Support of FFA.

The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) submitted comments on behalf of its members today, Nov. 26, 2012, regarding changes that the DESE have proposed in a new version of the MSIP 5 that will impact CTE courses in high schools. The changes have direct implications on agricultural education and FFA.

The new wording in MSIP 5, in comparison to MSIP 4, does not emphasize CTE and student organizations such as FFA. It is important that the wording be clarified to keep these programs strong in the state of Missouri.

MCA is encouraging all cattlemen and cattlewomen to take action and submit a letter of concern. Comments must be postmarked by Nov. 30, 2012. Send comments to: Margie Vandeven, Assistant Commissioner Office of Quality Schools, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, P.O. Box 480, Jefferson City, MO

In MCA’s call to action they also included a sample letter for people to use. It includes three key points that DESE needs to consider changing before MSIP 5 is finalized. I also encourage you to share your own personal story as to why career and technical education programs like the FFA have made a difference in your life.

This morning I spoke with Mike Deering, Executive Vice President of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, about their support for the Missouri FFA and the importance of representatives in Jefferson City to listen to those directly affected by the changes in MSIP 5.

Listen to my interview with Mike here: Mike Deering - MCA