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I had the opportunity to attend the 96th National FFA Convention, an event that brought together thousands of passionate young individuals from across the country to celebrate their love for agriculture. This convention was not just an adventure; it was a life-changing experience that broadened our horizons and enriched our understanding of the agricultural world.

Twelve Pymatuning Valley FFA students were selected to represent their chapter at the convention based on their active participation in FFA activities, their desire to attend, and their academic achievements. This honor was a testament to their commitment to agriculture and their dedication to personal and professional development.

While the convention was undoubtedly an exhilarating experience, it was not without its challenges. The students encountered criticism from fellow students who questioned students’ decisions to be away from home during harvest time. Some individuals took to social media to shame those students for prioritizing this unique opportunity over the demands of the farm.

This situation highlighted a crucial point — the misconceptions and misunderstandings that often surround FFA members and their commitment to agriculture. Farming is indeed vital, and we understand the importance of providing food and resources to our communities and beyond. But what some fail to realize is that our youth’s participation in FFA and experiences like the national convention are investments in the future of agriculture itself.

FFA members are not just students; they are the future leaders of the agricultural industry. Their involvement in FFA and their exposure to experiences like the national convention are essential for their personal and professional development.

FFA programs emphasize leadership development and grow leadership skills. Through workshops, seminars and hands-on experiences, youth learn to lead with integrity, communicate effectively and collaborate with diverse teams – all essential skills in the agricultural sector.

The National FFA Convention provided student with a platform to connect with industry professionals, educators and like-minded peers. These connections will be invaluable as they pursue careers in agriculture.

Agriculture is an ever-evolving field, and FFA encourages students to think critically and creatively. By attending the convention, youth were exposed to cutting-edge technologies and ideas that will drive the future of farming.

Stepping out of our comfort zones and experiencing new environments is a critical aspect of personal development. The convention exposed students to diverse cultures, perspectives and ideas, helping them become more well-rounded individuals.

FFA equips our youth to be advocates for agriculture. Personally, this is one of my favorite parts. Students are learning how to articulate the importance of our industry and share its story with a wider audience. This is essential in a world where misinformation about agriculture continues to grow.

FFA students understand the significance of farming, but they also recognize the need for personal growth and development. To excel in agriculture, we must be well-rounded individuals who can lead, innovate and advocate effectively. The convention provided the perfect platform for them to develop these skills.

The 96th National FFA Convention was an unforgettable experience that showcased the dedication and potential of FFA students. They are not just students; they are future leaders of agriculture, and their experiences and personal growth are investments in the industry’s future. Farming is vital, but to thrive and excel, we must explore new opportunities, experience new things and constantly strive to improve ourselves. The world of agriculture relies on individuals like those 12 students to drive innovation and ensure a prosperous future for generations to come.

Submitted by Mandy Orahood, an Ohio Farm Bureau organization director serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull counties. She can be reached by email.


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

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

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
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Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
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.
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Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
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
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
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
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.
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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.
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Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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