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Learning and growing through FFA

Published: Friday, March 3, 2017 2:23 p.m. CDT

Last week was National FFA Week, so I thought that this would be a perfect time to write about my involvement in my high school’s FFA chapter.

FFA gives high school students an opportunity to showcase the skills they have learned through an ag class at school, or they have learned hands on through real life agricultural experiences, and gives them the chance to expand their agricultural knowledge.

Last school year as a freshmen, I chose to get involved with FFA, and of course am still involved as a sophomore. FFA has given me opportunities to participate in competitions that were totally new to me, and has also given me a chance to continue to build on the skills that I have gained through showing cattle. In the years to come, I hope to widen my involvement in FFA and to continue to build my agricultural knowledge.

The Princeton High School FFA chapter competes in several different events throughout the course of the year. Some of these contests include soils contest, crop judging, livestock judging, parliamentary procedures, public speaking, trap shoots, etc.

The Princeton FFA chapter is part of Illinois FFA Section 3, which includes AlWood, Annawan, Bureau Valley, Cambridge, Galva, Geneseo, Kewanee, Orion, Princeton, Riverdale, Sherrard, Stark County and Wethersfield FFA chapters.

I have chosen in the past two years to participate in the crop judging, the livestock judging and the public speaking contest. While I have done livestock judging and public speaking through the national junior cattle shows that I have attended, crop judging was totally new to me.

Participating in this contest has helped me learn more about the crop side of agriculture, and not just the livestock side. Also competing in the livestock judging contest has helped me become better at judging other species of animals, and not just cattle. The public speaking contest has given me the opportunity to continue to improve my speech writing and speech giving abilities.

All of these contest have given me a great opportunity to widen my knowledge of agriculture and have allowed me to get involved in one of the many opportunities my high school offers.

FFA also gives members the opportunity to get involved and learn more about agriculture by giving us the chance to go on agriculture related field trips, giving us a chance to plan and plant our plot, participate in hands on activities, gain important leadership skills and even lets us drive our tractors to school during National FFA week.

In the next two years, I hope to become even more involved in Princeton’s FFA chapter. This year I hope to be able to show cattle at the Section 3 FFA fair. I did not get to do this last year as Section 3 did not have a fair. I also hope to start participating in several of the other offered contests. I hope to attend at least one state FFA convention and one national FFA convention in my high school career and I am even considering auditioning to be in the national FFA band or choir in the years to come, allowing me to combine two things I love to do — music and agriculture.

FFA has given me the chance to get more involved in agriculture and has helped me explore the many different opportunities that agriculture can offer. National FFA Week is an important week for members as it gives us a chance to advocate a great organization that gives youth interested in agriculture a chance to get involved.

I would like to take a moment to thank all of the amazing people that help out the Princeton FFA chapter by donating their time and knowledge to educate us about agriculture, and a special thanks to the Princeton FFA alumni for their constant support of our chapter.

FFA is a great organization for high schoolers of all agricultural backgrounds to get involved in, as it allows us to continue to widen our knowledge in many different fields. I am glad that I chose to get involved with FFA and I am excited to see where it takes me in the future.

Jessica Carlson is a sophomore at Princeton High School where she is heavily involved in the music program and FFA. She enjoys helping on her family’s farm in rural Malden.

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