Last Thursday night, I attended the Pymatuning Valley FFA 58th Annual Banquet. The banquet celebrates another successful year, the officer team, members, alumni, staff, families and the Seniors who in a very emotional closing ceremony, give their farewell speech and hang their blue and gold jackets up (literally) before having to announce their own successors. Between their emotions and knowing how I felt in my last days as a member and officer of the Caldwell FFA chapter, it took all I had to hold the tears back.

During their banquet, I was blessed to have been selected as an Honorary Member of the Pymatuning Valley FFA Chapter. While they thanked me for my support of agriculture, education and the FFA, I felt as if I should have been the one thanking them. I cover a four-county territory which only contains two chartered FFA Chapters, Pymatuning and Grand Valley. For someone who is so passionate about agriculture and FFA, that is heartbreaking. Thank you to the school administration for believing in FFA enough to keep it in the school curriculum. I love spending time with these kids. Whether we are talking about leadership opportunities with Farm Bureau, issues affecting agriculture, public speaking skills, or conducting interviews, I love seeing and hearing the passion that this amazing group of students have for the industry, especially the ones who didn’t grow up in agriculture. Thank you all for letting me be a part of your FFA family, and thank you for letting me share my love for agriculture.

I have worked hard over the last couple of years to build and strengthen our relationship with the county FFA chapters. Our mission with Farm Bureau is to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities, and the group of kids in FFA are our future. We have to invest in them and their futures, which ultimately, is our future. FFA is about more than farming. It’s about leadership development, personal growth, broadening horizons, agricultural and community unity, and a family.  FFA played a huge role in the person I am today. The leadership skills, public speaking, and relationships that I experienced in FFA were life-changing. Any of you who were actively involved I am sure totally understand where I am coming from. Most of my friends in high school saw my blue and gold jacket as a a terrible style mistake, to say the least, but I’ve never been so proud of something as I am my FFA jacket, which is why it now hangs in my new office. Right beside it, I’ll be hanging my honorary member plaque.

While we (Farm Bureau and myself) regularly fight for agricultural education and FFA in our schools, we need to fight harder. We need our community, elected officials, and especially our schools to support the program and our youth, and we need them to understand the importance of agriculture to all of our lives, not just those of us in the industry. Right up there with the National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, and Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer” speech, the FFA creed is a powerful, emotional statement…that we all should strive for.

With that, I leave you with the first and last verses of the FFA Creed. These two verses are what I strive for each day, and I challenge each of you live by this creed. The world will be a better place, I promise you that.

I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds – achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.

I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.

Mandy Orahood is an Ohio Farm Bureau organization director serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull counties. Mandy grew up on a cattle farm in southeast Ohio and earned her associate and bachelor’s degrees in Livestock and Animal Sciences from The Ohio State University. Before working for Farm Bureau, she was a meat inspector with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Mandy can be reached at [email protected].




I'm eternally grateful for the support Ohio Farm Bureau scholarships provided in helping me turn my dreams into reality.
Bethany Starlin's avatar
Bethany Starlin

Hocking County Farm Bureau

Available scholarships
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Business Solutions
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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