The National FFA Organization is proud to welcome Dr. Steve A. Brown of Missouri as the new National FFA Executive Secretary. He will begin his position as Agricultural Sciences Program Specialist with the U. S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., effective March 3, 2008. Brown replaces C. Coleman Harris, who retired in September after 46 years of service to agricultural education.
As national FFA executive secretary, Brown will provide leadership for FFA and agricultural education, while coordinating all meetings of the National FFA Organization Board of Directors and the National FFA Foundation Board of Trustees. He will assist National FFA Advisor and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Larry Case in overseeing, developing, maintaining and implementing policy for the National FFA Organization and the National FFA Foundation.
Brown will also support the work of the National Council for Agricultural Education, an umbrella leadership organization that shapes and strengthens school-based agricultural education at all levels in the nation. He will be instrumental in helping to drive the profession's long-range goal of achieving 10,000 quality agricultural education programs by 2015.
Brown has dedicated more than 27 years of service to agricultural education and FFA. He has served as the Missouri state FFA executive secretary and district supervisor for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education since 1985.
Prior to becoming state executive secretary, Brown taught agricultural education and served as one of two FFA advisors for five years at Macon Area Vocational School in Macon, Mo. He shared in coordinating chapter activities and fundraising in addition to developing and delivering coursework and leadership development programs. Brown currently serves on the National FFA Board of Directors, a consultant to the National Council for Agricultural Education and is a former member of National FFA Foundation Board of Trustees.
Brown received his doctorate in Agricultural Education, as well as his master's and bachelor's degrees, from the University of Missouri. He and his wife, Rhonda, have four daughters and two sons-in-law, and are the proud grandparents of two grandsons. During the coming weeks, Brown and his wife will relocate from Missouri to the Washington, D.C., area as he assumes his duties with the U.S. Department of Education and FFA.
Please join us in welcoming Dr. Steve Brown!
Q&A with Steve Brown
We sat down with Steve to get some more insight on his new position and what he sees for the future of agricultural education.
1.) What has the last month been like for you?
The last couple of months have been both challenging and rewarding—Challenging from the aspect of trying to learn some of the responsibilities of a new position and the unknowns of all the changes this new role will require. And rewarding in that I can reflect on the progress made in agricultural education and FFA in the past 28 years and know that in some small way I was a part of that positive change.
2.) What was your reaction when you found out you got the job?
Humbling. I received many emails, notes and messages of support when it was announced I had accepted the position. This outpouring of support from the agricultural education profession helped reassure me that I made the right decision. From a very young age, all I ever wanted to do was to become an agriculture teacher. Regardless of the title or position, I still consider myself an agriculture educator and want to do whatever I can to help students be successful in an agricultural career.
3.) What are you looking forward to most when you settle in Alexandria and begin your duties?
I'm looking forward to a few things: the opportunity to continue to be involved in agricultural education and FFA, which has always been my passion in life; the opportunity to try to make a positive difference in agricultural education, the FFA and students we serve; and the opportunity to learn and work with others from around the nation and help communicate their successes. There are great people, programs and initiatives across this nation that need to be shared and replicated. I hope I can play a role in communicating and sharing those successes.
4.) What has been the most challenging part of this transition?
The most challenging part of this transition is leaving my current job. I have worked as a district supervisor and state FFA executive secretary for almost 23 years and was an agricultural education instructor for five years prior, for a total of 28 years in the profession. You don't work that long in this profession without building a healthy appreciation for your colleagues. I will sincerely miss the people that I have had the opportunity and pleasure to work along side on a day to day basis. They have taught me many valuable lessons that I rely on each and every day.
The move is only location. Building professional relationships with others, based upon honesty, trust and clearly-defined expectations takes time to develop and last a lifetime. My hope is that I can continue to build professional relationships in this new role and help them to understand the positive difference agricultural education and FFA can make in student success.
5.) It's clear that you are devoted to agricultural education and FFA. When did this begin, and who has influenced you the most?
My first recollection of agricultural education and FFA was when my older brother was involved in the program and a new agriculture teacher named Larry Case came to town. The example he provided to a young elementary student instilled a desire to pursue a career in agricultural education. This was followed by my high school agriculture teacher, Roger Wolf, who was an excellent role model and source of encouragement.
6.) What accomplishments do you hope to make for agricultural education and FFA during your time as National FFA Executive Secretary?
The success of agricultural education and FFA depends on teamwork, building relationships and accountability. It is my hope that I can help agricultural education and FFA continue to grow and prosper by encouraging teamwork, by building long term sustainable professional relationships within and outside the profession, and to promote the development of accountability to show the difference agricultural education and FFA can make.
7.) You have big shoes to fill. What do you admire most about Coleman Harris, and how will you use those traits in your new role?
I have always contended that you never fill someone's shoes…you follow in their footsteps. Coleman Harris had a quiet caring disposition that caused everyone to listen when he spoke. He provided a wealth of insight and history that can't be duplicated. It is my hope and desire that I will be quick to listen and learn and can have the patience of Coleman Harris to contribute helping the profession be forward thinkers with positive results.
8.) What opportunities do you think lie ahead for agricultural education?
Agricultural education is the best kept secret in the education community. We must continue to demonstrate and communicate the difference and impact the agricultural education profession has on students.
We must make a difference by building a bigger box for agricultural education that engages a rigorous curriculum; pursuing a clear set of program standards; engaging ALL students in a supervised experience program; involving ALL students in a leadership and personal development process; developing a recognition program that recognizes the achievements of ALL students; and embrace and develop accountability measurements that show the value of agricultural education.
We must make a difference by influencing and showing others the value of agricultural education and encouraging our children to become agriculture educators—one of the most rewarding professions in the world.
We must make a difference by planting seeds of hope for ALL students by showing we care and helping them to succeed through a team effort by everyone in the agricultural education family.
And finally, we must make a difference by having a WE CAN attitude.