Promoting FFA: Wyoming harnesses social media during FFA week
Each year, FFA members around the country celebrate National FFA Week in mid-February, using the time to spread awareness about agriculture and FFA.
“There is a knowledge gap between production agriculture and consumers,” says Wyoming FFA President Kirby Hales. “Through FFA, we can help close the gap,”
National FFA week
According to the National FFA Organization, National FFA Week is designated each year to take place the week of George Washington’s birthday. Chapters are encouraged to use this week to promote agriculture within their communities and teach others about the importance of agriculture.
Wyoming FFA Vice President Sheridan Stewart explained the Wyoming State FFA officer team is taking on the strategy laid out by National FFA.
“Each year prior to FFA Week, National FFA lays out themes for each day to help plan out activities and posts,” says Stewart. “Each of our officers will be posting on our individual social media pages, as well as the Wyoming FFA pages.”
Hales explains FFA chapters across the country participate in the annual National FFA Week as a way to promote agriculture.
He comments the state officer team makes an effort to visit individual chapters and get involved as much as they can at the local level.
“It can be really hard for our state officer team to reach all the chapters in the state during National FFA Week because they are so spread out,” Hales says. “This year, we decided to really focus on utilizing social media tools to get the word out about agriculture and FFA and connect with local chapters.”
The importance of
“I believe we have several goals for this week surrounding advocacy,” says Stewart. “We want to spread awareness about agriculture as a whole but also promote the positive benefits FFA provides for students.”
Stewart explains he believes many agriculturalists miss the big picture when it comes to advocating for their industry.
“We really need to take a step back and realize everyone is a consumer at the end of the day,” Stewart says. “We all need food, clothing and shelter to survive, and those needs are met via agriculture.”
Stewart points out, in this day and age, agriculture is in a fight like never before with organizations that constantly spread negative and false information about farming and ranching practices.
“Agriculture does its job extremely well, and when we look at how much more efficient we’ve become as a whole, this is obvious,” says Stewart. “But, as agriculturalists, we have to get out of our own four walls and communicate with end consumers.”
Benefits of FFA
Hales stresses the important role the organization has played for him.
“I don’t know where I would be without FFA,” he says. “A few of my family members were also state officers, and I felt like it was expected of me to be here.”
He notes FFA is the most influential organization he’s been involved in.
“I’ve had the chance to meet so many people and be involved in a variety of different events,” he says.
Hales explains through FFA he was given the chance to compete in events such as horse and livestock judging, as well as a variety of speaking contests.
“I got a full scholarship to livestock judge at Casper College,” Hales notes. “I wouldn’t be going to college for free had it not been for the opportunities FFA has given me.”
Variety of opportunities
Stewart shares a similar background in FFA and notes he has gained a variety of hard and soft skills through his participation with FFA.
“I would stretch to say any youth in America could find a place in the FFA,” says Stewart. “It’s so much more than just production agriculture. Students who are interested in science, public speaking or leadership can find a place in this organization.”
Stewart explains he had the opportunity to pick up skills ranging from plant identification to empathy.
“FFA allowed me to learn some pretty obvious hard skills such as animal husbandry, livestock evaluation, plant identification and shop skills,” Stewart says. “Even though I’m not a great welder, it was a really good skill to learn.”
He explains he also learned things that weren’t necessarily specific to agriculture but are extremely useful.
“FFA taught me public speaking skills, how to be an effective leader and, most importantly, empathy,” he notes. “My time as a state officer has taught me more about empathizing with other people who have different backgrounds and experiences than anything else I’ve ever been a part of.”
Callie Hanson is the assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.