Commentary: Upcoming event will celebrate the success of FFA
By George Gomes
During the course of my career in agriculture, I had the opportunity to be involved with many individuals and groups tackling tough issues such as air quality, water distribution, taxes and more, all of which called for strong, determined and effective leadership. As I reflect back on those experiences, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with so many accomplished leaders in California who were passionate about agriculture, and who were willing to give of their time and effort to serve others. It should come as no surprise that the majority of those effective and determined leaders shared a common trait with me—a history of involvement in agricultural education and the Future Farmers of America program.
My involvement in FFA, both as a past member and as a longtime member of the California FFA Foundation Board of Directors, has confirmed my belief that no better program exists to start young people on a positive, productive path in life. As a member of the FFA Foundation board, I see firsthand the positive difference the FFA makes in the lives of young people. The impact and accomplishments of those who have worn that blue corduroy jacket are simply undeniable, and certainly worthy of our continued support.
In celebration of the growth and success of the Future Farmers of America in California, the FFA Foundation is planning a Blue and Gold Gala celebration for the evening of Feb. 22, 2017, at the FFA Center in Galt. The specific purpose of the gala is to celebrate the ongoing success and growth of FFA in California, especially during the past 10 years since the FFA Center has been open.
First dedicated in February 2007, the FFA Center has served as the home of the Future Farmers of America, providing housing and training facilities for the FFA state officer team as well as meeting and business facilities for FFA staff and industry allies. The FFA Center also houses the history of agricultural education and FFA, dating back to the early 1920s.
The Blue and Gold Gala will highlight important milestones for FFA that have occurred during the past 10 years, including:
- Increased FFA membership, from 64,274 students in 2007 to more than 83,894 students today;
- Growth in leadership-development opportunities and activities, with 14,879 students attending leadership training conferences in 2016, compared with about 8,000 in 2006;
- More than 1,500 agricultural education courses recognized for University of California and California State University admission, compared to 781 in 2007;
- The addition of 17 new agricultural education programs and FFA chapters.
The gala program will also highlight the accomplishments of chapters and individual students who have gained state and national recognition for their success, dedication and service to agriculture. During the past 10 years, the level of enthusiasm and interest in agricultural careers has soared among students in every region in California, and the gala will serve as a fitting reminder to all of us that these potential agricultural leaders of tomorrow need to be supported today.
As we finalize plans for the Blue and Gold Gala, we hope you will consider sponsoring a table or other parts of the program for this event. The FFA Foundation is looking to build increased capacity and access, to ensure that even more opportunities are available to these talented and energetic young people who aspire to careers in agriculture. Your support will go directly to building our capacity to offer more conferences and activities throughout California, as well as supporting these young people as they build their skills and leadership capabilities in new and innovative ways.
We recognize many of you already contribute to local programs and chapters—and we certainly don't want you to stop providing that support locally—but we also would like you to recognize the importance of the statewide programs and activities that make it possible for these future leaders to further develop their skills by participating in activities above the local level. Without your support, the FFA Foundation will not have the capacity to increase access to these high-quality events and programs. Your help will make a difference in the lives of young people.
If you would like more information about opportunities to attend or support the Blue and Gold Gala, or ways you can invest in FFA, please contact Katie Otto at the FFA Foundation Office: email@example.com. Sponsorship opportunities remain for individuals and businesses.
Please do your part to ensure that strong, determined leadership will continue to be developed to help guide agriculture as it faces additional challenges in the future. Many of us involved in agriculture owe a great deal to the training and instruction we received when we wore the blue jacket. Help pay that forward to the next generation of young people who aspire to serve agriculture: Join us at the Blue and Gold Gala as we celebrate the success of FFA!
(George Gomes is a retired California Farm Bureau Federation administrator and a member of the California FFA Foundation Board of Directors.)
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