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Commentary: For three generations, FFA guided farming family

Issue Date: March 23, 2022
By Brielle Prock
Brielle Prock
Ray Prock Jr. and wife Erica, center, with children Bryson and Brielle, are the second and third generations of the family that went on to wear the FFA jacket.
Courtesy of Prock family

I was born into FFA. I come from a third-generation dairy farm family, in which one generation after another—a grandfather, uncles, cousins, my father, mother, brother and now me—have lived the FFA experience as we built our lives in agriculture.

For us, FFA is more than an organization. It's a family thing, a legacy.

Starting this weekend, I will celebrate that legacy as I attend the 2022 California FFA State Leadership Conference in Sacramento. More than 7,000 high school students, advisors and guests are expected at the March 26-29 gathering.

I'm currently a freshman at Oklahoma State University, working toward a dual degree in agribusiness and agricultural communications. I arrived there after graduating from Denair High School in Stanislaus County, where I was the sixth member of the Prock family to have the honor of being president of the Denair FFA chapter.

FFA has allowed me to create my own path, to step outside of my comfort zone and participate in special projects, leadership conferences and career-development events as I work to receive my American FFA Degree.

The California FFA dates to October 1928, when a meeting to form the California Association of the Future Famers of America was held in Oakland. In the nearly 94 years since, the organization has enriched student experiences and added to their growth, thanks to dedicated families, communities and—most of all—teachers.

My grandfather, Ray Prock Sr., started my family's legacy in FFA. He enrolled in an agriculture class at Galt High School in Sacramento County during his freshman year. He had no background in farming but said "FFA provided that education and hands-on learning" that inspired him on the way.

My grandfather went on to receive his state FFA Degree and even got to serve as a delegate at a famous California State FFA convention that I read about in my agriculture class during my high school freshman year. In 1969, there was a vote to allow women into California FFA. My grandfather voted "yes."

Two generations later, he would watch his granddaughter shape her own FFA journey.

FFA inspired my grandfather to start Ray-Lin Dairy in Galt with my grandmother, Linda Prock, in 1972. He later called it a gift from God to be able to raise a family in agriculture.

My father, Ray Prock Jr., the eldest of five sons, moved with the family when Ray-Lin Dairy located to Denair from Elk Grove. There, my dad joined the Denair FFA Chapter after starting in Elk Grove. He went on to earn his American FFA degree, the highest honor in the national FFA.

These days, my dad is a western region equipment sales specialist at GEA Farm Technologies, president of the Denair Unified School District Board of Trustees and a former treasurer of the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board. He supports numerous agricultural initiatives, including helping raise money to give FFA members opportunities to grow their leadership skills and achieve their goals in agriculture.

He told me he didn't think of FFA as a legacy until the day my brother, Bryson, tried on his FFA jacket for sizing. Then he knew it ran in the family.

"It hit me that I would get to see both my children wear the same chapter on their jackets," he said. My brother was soon to join FFA.

My mother, Erica Prock, a teacher at Denair Elementary State Preschool, started her FFA journey at Elk Grove High School where she met my father. She told me, "Through FFA, I made lifelong friendships and developed life skills that allowed me to be the best that I could be." She said she is proud of her children and their FFA "accomplishments and leadership skills that will enable each of them to pave their own pathways for their futures."

The accomplishments include those of my brother Bryson, who joined Denair FFA and went on to earn the American FFA degree. Through his high school years, Bryson was very involved in agricultural mechanics and welding classes at Denair High School, getting hands-on learning for his future in agriculture.

"The harder I worked in FFA, the luckier I became," Bryson told me.

Reflecting on my journey in the blue jacket, I wouldn't trade the relationships, life lessons and experiences I gained for anything. I hope to attend law school with the intent to become an agricultural lawyer or lobbyist and eventually run my own agricultural law firm. To close out my FFA journey, I will come together with many, many FFA members in Sacramento, as we share our aspirations and celebrate the future of American agriculture.

(Brielle Prock is a freshman at Oklahoma State University and the 2020-21 president of the FFA Chapter in Denair. She may be contacted at brielle.prock@gmail.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.




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