By: Bruce Kettler, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture
Recently, Indianapolis hosted nearly 60,000 FFA members from around the country for the National FFA Convention. This convention has been held in Indy for a number of years and will continue to be the host for years to come. The four-day event was alive with students, parents and advisors. Restaurants stayed busy, hotels became full, the career expo was crowded with exhibitors, and it was a breath of fresh air to get back to normal. Each year, this event helps prepare a career ready workforce.
Dating back to 1952 the FFA Mission was developed to highlight leadership, personal growth and career success. The National FFA Convention and organization as a whole opens many doors for its members. From the hands-on learning in classrooms emphasizing the differing education paths within agriculture, it’s a great organization for workforce development, even though it is rarely thought of that way.
National Convention boasts so many career and leadership development events that propel students to explore a magnitude of career paths. Students compete in areas like food science, animal production and public speaking, among others. I had the pleasure to speak with members from across the country and almost all of them intend to go into a career path related to the competition they entered.
The career expo, at the convention, features higher education schools from across the country for students to explore, nearly every branch of the military is in attendance for students who want to inquire about that path and of course FFA ensures that trade schools have a place at the same table as higher education. Students can learn to weld right in the expo hall, they can explore what programs universities and community colleges have to offer in agriculture, and they can speak with military recruiters about being a part of something larger than themselves.
A career ready workforce is difficult to achieve this day in age, but it isn’t impossible thanks to FFA chapters and members around the United States. The National FFA Organization is developing our youth for different career paths and the National FFA Convention is just one of the learning opportunities students have to explore the workforce.
Thanks to the FFA Organization and agriculture educators around the country, I know these students will be well prepared for any line of work they choose to enter. As a nation we will be better off with these students ready and well equipped for their chosen career path.