When it comes to keeping Indiana’s FFA program strong, state funding plays a role, and state leaders are pledging strong support for FFA during a time of tight budgets. While Indiana FFA may be facing a reduction in state funding, incoming ISDA director Ted McKinney said he will work hard to find the resources that FFA needs to continue to thrive, “We can’t just throw money at an issue, but we cannot let slide what is already a growing momentum in youth development.” During his first press conference McKinney said that Indiana FFA and 4-H represent an outstanding example of youth development. While he would not get specific on funding levels, he did say, “We will do whatever it takes.”
While not getting specific, Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann stated support for FFA may come from a variety of areas, including increased funds for Science and Technology education or STEM, “We did have funding in the budget to increase STEM education and providing incentives to get more teachers to come into STEM. And 30 of the STEM teacher slots were designated for ag teachers.” Ellspermann made it clear that agriculture is part of STEM education, “Someone needs to say it: ag is STEM.” She added that Purdue has been selected as one of the state universities that is receiving grant dollars from the state to get more ag teachers into Hoosier high schools.
Increasing opportunities for vocational education is a key part of the Pence administration platform, making sure FFA is a part of that will be the focus of efforts in 2014.