FFA Members Make Their Voices Heard in Washington

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Group Promotes Native Voices, Rural and Tribal Issues with Government Officials

INDIANAPOLIS – A group of 10 current and former FFA members and FFA advisors from five states recently attended a week-long event in Washington, meeting with various leaders within the United States Department of Agriculture and other agencies from Nov. 14-18, 2011. The event was designed to raise awareness of rural issues and engage in advocacy for Native American youth in agricultural education.

By special invitation from USDA and through the generous support of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and Farm Credit as a special project of the National FFA Foundation, the group united as a voice in the national dialogue on identifying barriers and opportunities in agricultural education that lead to both continuing higher education attainment and career success in native communities. They also met to recognize opportunities for support and mentorship for agricultural education students in native communities.

Among the administrators meeting with the group were Kathleen Merrigan, USDA Deputy Secretary; Bruce Nelson, Administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency; Keith Moore, Director of the Bureau of Indian Education; and Brian Drapeaux, Chief of Staff of the Bureau of Indian Education.

There are 210 FFA chapter in 20 states that have students who self-identify as Native American.

Formerly known as Future Farmers of America, the National FFA Organization provides agricultural education to more than 523,000 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,487 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Participants included:

Current FFA Members
Jasmine Blackwater, Arizona
Beth Lake, Arizona
Austin Armenta, California
Natori Hatfield, California
Jacob Norte, California
Jasmine Locklear, North Carolina
Dustin Franklin, Oklahoma
Ridge Howell, Oklahoma

Former FFA Members
Joshua Moore, Arizona
Odessa Oldham, Wyoming

Advisors/Chaperones
Elissa McBride, Arizona
Vincent Armenta, California
Sharon Freeman, California
Shawn Hatfield, California
Cindy Magill, California
Edward Norte, California
Gina Norte, California
Brandie Taylor, California
Jason Bullock, North Carolina
Narthan Coulter, Oklahoma
Jason McPeak, Oklahoma

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About National FFA Organization
The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of 523,309 student members as part of 7,487 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online, on Facebook, on Twitter and FFA Nation.

About Farm Credit
For 95 years, Farm Credit has been a national provider of credit and related services to rural America through a cooperative network of customer-owned lending institutions and specialized service organizations. Created by Congress in 1916, the Farm Credit System provides more than $175 billion in loans and leases to farmers, ranchers, rural homeowners, aquatic producers, timber harvesters, agribusinesses, and agricultural and rural utility cooperatives. For more information about the Farm Credit System, please visit www.farmcredit.com.

About the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians owns and operates the Chumash Casino Resort, located on the tribe’s reservation in Santa Barbara County, California. The tribe also owns Hotel Corque and Root 246 in Solvang, along with two gas stations in Santa Ynez. Visit www.santaynezchumash.org for more information on the tribe and its business enterprises.