National FFA Officer Partnership Tour Makes a Stop at Ag Leader Technology
My FFA jacket hangs in my hall closet with two old prom dresses and my winter coats. I could make room for more timely fashions, but I can’t seem to part – even 20 years later – with my navy blue and gold corduroy reminder of high school days long gone. So when I was introduced to Alicia Hodnik, 2011-12 National FFA Central Region Vice President, and Cain Thurmond, 2011-12 National FFA Southern Region Vice President, when they visited Ag Leader Technology April 18, 2012, I was reminded again of what the FFA meant to me when I belonged to the Fremont-Mills High School chapter. That jacket will probably hang in my closet forever.
(Left to right: Al Myers, Cain Thurmond, Alicia Hodnik, Kelly Kopsa)
On The Road
The visit to Ag Leader was just one stop on the National FFA Officer Partnership Tour, a program designed as part of an overall training and outreach for National Officers of the FFA. Visits are conducted with companies across the United States to give the officers a better understanding of today’s business enterprises and broaden their exposure of not only agriculture/agribusiness, but of the entire business section.
“The purpose of our tour is to help the national officers learn the current challenges facing a specific industry and how the company is meeting those challenges. The representatives in the diverse companies we visit then have the opportunity to offer advice to the young people who are in the process of planning their careers,” Maggie Halferty, Regional Director of the National FFA Foundation, explained.
Ag Leader President Al Myers, Support System Manager Kelly Kopsa and myself visited with the officers about the past, present and future of precision farming, as well as the future goals of the officers. The informative discussion ended with a tour of the company.
Ag Leader is a proud sponsor of the Emerging Agriculture Technology Proficiency Award, an honor given to FFA members at a chapter, state or national level who’ve completed a SAE (Supervised Ag Experience) and were chosen as the best of the best. “The competition gives students hands-on experience, as well as the opportunity to influence the future of agriculture with their ideas,” explained Kopsa.
What It Takes
Each year, six individuals between the ages of 19-21 are elected from the national membership at the annual National FFA Convention. Officers take one year off from their college study and dedicate that year of service to FFA. Each travels approximately 300 days during their year as an officer, meeting with FFA members, parents and business leaders. The also meet such leaders as the President of the United States, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, congressional and USDA officials in Washington D.C., international leaders, and members of the agriculture/agribusiness industry.
Alicia Hodnik is a freshman studying Agricultural education and biotechnology at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. “A national FFA officer sometimes only gets a moment of time to meet someone and make a difference,” she said. “Whether five or 500 feet away, my influence must always be strong. The challenge is, I’ll never know what small moment will be the one that changes a person’s life.”
Cain Thurmond is a junior at the University of Georgia majoring in Agriculture and Applied Economics. “Representation is more than a title. It is dedication, loyalty and believing in the calling of your organization,” he explained. “Nothing we do on Earth will last forever. But if I make a positive difference in the life of someone else, there is no limit to how far that good deed may last.”