Wyoming FFA Members Explore AGvocacy
By Stacy Broda, Wyoming FFA Association Advisor
Wyoming FFA members, industry partners, community members and leaders all took part in the first annual Wyoming Agriculture Advocacy Week, held Jan. 26-Feb. 1. The idea of advocacy week was hatched by the Wyoming FFA State Officers as they visited about the lack of knowledge in society about agriculture and food products.
FFA members were asked to visit with members of their communities, join in the #VoiceforAg social media campaign and participate in a video and essay contest, both with the theme “A Voice for Agriculture.”
After being reviewed by a panel of judges, the top five essays were determined. Top essays were submitted by Mike Espy of the Little Snake River FFA Chapter in Baggs, in fifth place, Buck Butterfield of the Chief Washakie FFA in Worland in fourth place, Taylor Fulfer of the Chief Washakie FFA in third place and Becca Weber of the Shoshoni FFA Chapter in second.
The first place award went to Matthew Winterholler of the Gillette FFA. Matthew will receive a $100 cash prize donated by Ben and Teresa Milner. Thanks to the Wyoming Livestock Roundup for supporting this initiative and printing the winning essay from Matthew.
A Voice for Agriculture
By Matthew Winterholler, Gillette FFA Chapter
Agriculture: not only does it run deep in our nation’s roots, but it’s also the future of the world’s super power. The agriculture industry is the heart of America. As the FFA Creed states, “I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life,” proving that agriculture is still prevalent in today’s busy world while also being the rock of America in our modernized society.
Just because agriculture holds true to the best traditions of our national life doesn’t mean that it isn’t modernizing, as well. Many new advances in agriculture have led to the American farmer being able to feed 155 people, whereas in 1960, the American farmer fed only 28.5 people. This is the reason why it’s important to advocate for agriculture.
Advocating for the nation’s largest industry is no small feat. With the hundreds, even possibly thousands, of misconceptions floating around out there, advocating can be a daunting task for any young agriculturist. There are articles such as ones titled, “10 Reasons to Avoid GMOs” and “Modern Agriculture is Bad for Our Health” skewing the truth about agriculture and the ways that progressive agriculturists have improved agriculture through and through.
So how do we, as agriculturists, set the record straight?
There are many tools FFA members can use to persuade people with the positives of agriculture. First, many people need to realize that just because there are extreme activists trying to take down the industry that we love, there are also a lot of people that can be swayed to the pro-agriculture side. In order to do this, start off with a personal story, not a fact or statistic, to gain a connection with the person needing convinced. After the personal story is told, then myths can be addressed. If agriculturists can address the myths of our industry while also making a personal connection with people along the way, the job becomes much easier.
Agriculture advocacy can be tough. However, if FFA members and other young agriculturists work together, myths can be debunked quickly, and the industry can get back to what is most important – finding innovative ways to feed an increasingly demanding world. If America’s citizens learn the truth about agriculture, along with innovation and technology, the industry which has sparked a fire within many young people will once again be unstoppable.