FFA: Customer perspectives

Envision a future in which all agricultural education students discover their passion in life and build on that insight to chart the course for their education, careers and personal future. Such is the aim of the National FFA Organization along with partner businesses such as Syngenta. “FFA students are taught to set goals and set them high,” says Syngenta sales representative David Boehm, regional account lead, key account management, cereals. “These students are given the opportunity through activities sponsored by Syngenta and others to have real-world experiences that give them confidence.”

Boehm, along with other Syngenta sales representatives, had the opportunity to see firsthand the excitement of thousands of FFA members and advisors during the 85th National FFA Convention & Expo held in Indianapolis recently.

Syngenta customers believe in these student efforts and their ultimate investment in the future, too. Syngenta had dozens of company representatives and retailers attend the convention and expo, leveraging the power of a fully committed company and staff to support FFA and the future of agriculture. Some of the Syngenta retailers explained why Syngenta’s continued support of FFA is so important as well as how being an FFA member helped mold them today:
Bill Jackson, manager, Agri Services of Brunswick LLC:

“As a result of private donations, FFA is fully self-supporting. No public tax funds are involved, yet this program provides a forum and guidance for young people to express and find themselves. Each of the organizations current 560,000 members has their own FFA success story. Plus, after 85 years, there are millions of American FFA Alumni, like me, who know the value and promise of the FFA experience.

“I joined the Arcola, Ind., FFA chapter in 1961 as a high school junior, and I have been involved in FFA at the local level ever since, first in Indiana and now in Missouri. As a young FFA student growing up, in addition to learning about being responsible for the welfare of my livestock, I also learned about good record keeping, the importance of fulfilling my commitments and how to respect hard work and other people willing to work hard.

“One thing that impressed me about the FFA students during this year’s convention was how well behaved they were during FFA events, and while out in public, you could see that they were joyful and happy to be at the event. For example, the Thursday evening general session was a lively affair until the time arrived for the program to start. At the snap of your fingers, the audience silenced and gave their complete attention to the program speakers for the next two hours. It was also during the general session that I got to hear two national regional vice presidents from Georgia and Idaho speak. Both young men took center stage and presented excellent messages several minutes in length without notes or a podium as a security blanket.”

Jackson recalls an American Indian philosophy that he feels sums up the FFA organization – “Know yourself. Know your friends. Know the enemy. Lead the way.”
Jason Apple, co-owner and founder, A&E Ag, LLC:

“Support of the FFA organization and its programs by sponsors like Syngenta helps to ensure the continued education and leadership and skill building of our future generations.

“I have been involved in FFA for almost 18 years and on many different levels: as a student, alumni, local FFA Alumni president and FFA judge during various competitions. I also have worked with students in different ag educational programs.

“As a young FFA student and officer of our local chapter, the FFA organization gave me the leadership skills and confidence I needed to believe in myself. As a result, I have accomplished many successes and been able to get through different challenges throughout my life, and I am now a co-owner of an ag retail plant. I believe that FFA played a big part in laying the foundation for my success today.

“As an owner of an ag company, finding skilled individuals in the field is not as easy as one might think. I had the opportunity to interact with FFA students during this year’s National FFA Convention and was proud to see so many talented, young individuals that will someday be our leaders. Some students that I had the privilege of conversing with at the convention told me that, before they became involved with FFA, they were shy and apprehensive about speaking in front of large groups. These young men and women have been able to step out of their comfort zones and were able to carry on a conversation with me and asked many questions which led me to believe they would do just as good as any seasoned professional during a job interview.

“I was very happy to see the interaction these young people had with each other and the sponsors at this year’s event as well as the skills that they are developing as young adults. It makes me proud to be in ag and the future potential we have going forward feeding our world.”