Pymatuning Valley FFA

“I believe in the future of agriculture…”

— FFA Creed by E.M Tiffany

Those are the first six words of the FFA Creed. Six words that many years ago (more than I care to admit to anyone) I took pride in, but never once thought I would still live by all these years later.

Those six words are why I do what I do every day. It’s what drew me to a career with the Farm Bureau. It’s why I do my best to help our members fight for the industry and find solutions to the problems facing our community.

As I sit here and type this in my office, my Caldwell FFA jacket hangs proudly on my wall. That jacket helped develop my leadership and communication skills, provided personal and professional growth and fostered my passion for agriculture.

Believing in the future of agriculture is teaching my children the importance of farmers and letting them experience all that the industry has to offer. It is helping our youth develop the same work ethic, skills and knowledge that will make them successful in whatever they choose to do. It’s also why I recently accepted a position as an assistant FFA adviser on top of raising a family and my more-than-full-time job with Farm Bureau.

The last weekend of October, head adviser Tom Mazzaro and I took 10 Pymatuning Valley FFA students to the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. This event typically draws in more than 65,000 attendees.

As we arrived, the city was dotted with blue and gold jackets, and as we walked into the convention center, I couldn’t help but smile at the waves of blue and gold. Thousands of FFA members from all over the United States travel to be a part of something bigger than their school chapters. FFA members are able to visit with colleges, military and ag businesses to learn about all of the amazing opportunities available in the agriculture industry. Additionally, career success tours, delegate business sessions, student and teacher workshops for personal and professional development are offered, as well as service opportunities that benefit local communities.

On top of all of that, the convention celebrates the achievements of FFA members from all over our great nation. On Saturday, 449 Ohio FFA members were recognized for earning the highest degree achievable in the National FFA Organization, the American FFA Degree. More than 58,000 attendees came to celebrate the hard work and dedication.

Allison Graves, Aubrey Hane and Austin Stringfellow from Pymatuning Valley FFA all earned their American FFA Degrees and were recognized for going above and beyond to achieve excellence. We are so proud of them.

I watched high school students and recent graduates speak to a group of 58,000 people unscripted, and they were perhaps the most well-spoken speakers I have ever listened to. As I was getting to know our students, we talked about jobs and finances and my heart was so proud of them. They all have jobs and earn money which is more than many adults can say, and they aren’t out of high school yet.

I was called “ma’am,” and I heard “please” and “thank you.” One of our male students carried my pink bag from the convention to the van in the pouring rain without me asking. These kids are our future. They are the people we want to hire. I’m just getting started and just getting to know these kids, but I can tell you I truly am proud of them and I can’t wait to see what their future holds.

I am proud to be a part of the county and though it may be small, I will strive to make a difference for agriculture and our community everyday.

The last line of the FFA Creed: “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.”

OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities

Having opportunities to attend leadership institutes, advocate for rural Ohioans on the state and national level, facilitate young ag professionals events, and serve in a variety of leadership positions have helped my skills grow exponentially.
Sara Tallmadge's avatar
Sara Tallmadge

Ashland 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
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
I was gifted the great opportunity through an Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Youth Pathways grant to run a series of summer camps here. That really expanded my vision of what ‘grow, maintain, sustain and explain’ could actually be.
Jim Bruner's avatar
Jim Bruner

Mezzacello Urban Farms

Farming for Good
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
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

Advocacy
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