By: Lauren Schwab, Ohio Pig Farmer
Being a member of the National FFA Organization is more than wearing a blue jacket. Being in FFA becomes part of who you are. It represents what you stand for and where you going. I give credit to FFA for making me a farmer and leader with spirit.
I first joined FFA in high school as a member of the Talawanda Butler-Tech FFA Chapter in Oxford, Ohio. My advisors became important mentors, and they encouraged me to join the agricultural communications team. I quickly discovered my love for public speaking and news writing.
Upon graduation, I decided to attend Miami University (in Ohio) for journalism. While searching for an internship, I discovered opportunities within the organization and became a Collegiate FFA Agricultural Ambassador. A scholarship allowed me to present to students and civic organizations about agriculture. It was through this experience I not only gained skills and confidence, but made friends from across the country. We still keep in touch and continually learn from one another.
I also had the opportunity to intern for the newsroom crew at the National FFA Convention which was life changing. Through interviews I conducted at convention, I shared many FFA stories including a couple of my favorites – a profile on the Virgin Islands FFA Chapter and my interview with a girl who had her one wish to attend National FFA Convention granted by the Make a Wish Foundation. I also found a love for interviewing country music artists and sharing their motivational advice to FFA members going after their dreams.
Right after college I had the opportunity to travel to Japan with the International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership (ICAL) program and learn about international agriculture. As a pig farmer, I was able to see U.S. pork in a Japanese grocery store, learn about trade relations and experience another culture. FFA has not only taken me across the world, it has given me a new perspective and passion to use my talents to give back to agriculture in a bigger way.
I am now a full-time American pig farmer. I tell my story through social media and blogging as Farm Girl With Curls. FFA has truly allowed me to hone my leadership skills, personal growth and career success. FFA is not only about your career; it’s about relationships and a positive attitude. FFA will always be a part of me and is the reason why I am a Face of Farming and Ranching for the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. FFA provided the tools to tell my farming story and the confidence to have conversations with consumers.
I encourage anyone to be in FFA if they have the opportunity. You could gain life-long friendships and also discover your talents and career path. FFA is all about service to others, and I hope to give back by always believing in the future of agriculture.
Lauren Schwab, who serves as one of USFRA’s Faces of Farming & Ranching, works on her 1200-sow breed-to-wean family pig farm in Butler County, Ohio, where they raise 30,000 pigs annually. As the farrowing house manager, she is a week one specialist to ensure all piglets get off to the best start. As a millennial farmer and blogger, Lauren connects with young adults and young women who care about their food, the environment and their careers.
All opinions expressed are the writer's own. Funded by one or more checkoff programs.