Last week, we went to The National FFA Convention in Louisville, Ky. We were really excited to be part of this event and talk with future leaders in agriculture.
For those who aren’t familiar with The National FFA Organization, it’s a youth leadership organization that was created in 1928. Originally, it was the called the Future Farmers of America, but in 1988, it officially changed to The National FFA Organization. The organization was developed for young leaders to support agriculture in the classroom.
Today, there are nearly 600,000 students (junior high through senior high) involved in the organization. That’s an astonishing number of youth interested in farming, ranching and related fields. FFA’s mission focuses on three core values for students — developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
Now, when we think of farmers and ranchers, rarely do we think of that millennial age group. Rather, most of us think of farmers and ranchers as baby boomers. After all, 60 percent of today’s farmers and ranchers are 55 years of age and older.
With the average age of farmers and ranchers increasing – we have to ask: who’s next? What does the future of farming look like and is there a future for agriculture in America? With the number of members involved in The National FFA Organization and its goal to develop strong leaders, we believe the future of agriculture looks pretty bright.
Consider this age group for a minute – this is the group who doesn’t know what life is like without the Internet or any number of technologies for that matter. It’s been said that millennials are the smartest age group yet. Much of this is due to the technologies they’ve been exposed to since their early childhood.
Pairing this age group and their knowledge with agriculture can only mean big things in the future. Many farmers talk about how much farming has improved, even from their own parents’ time – more efficient with water, crop inputs and more – and often because of new advancements in technology. This group of young leaders, many coming through the lessons and experiences of FFA, will definitely take agriculture to new places.