National FFA President inspires; FFA program offers numerous benefits to students
National FFA President, Luke O'Leary (center), with Sky View FFA students
Change is inevitable, but don’t let it deter you from pursuing your dreams. That was the message from National FFA President, Luke O’Leary, when he addressed students at Sky View High School on September 5th. “When you have something that you’re working toward and change comes your way and messes up the plan that you had pictured in your mind and in your heart for so long,” O’Leary urged, “let go of what is not working, maybe let go of that specific timeline, but don’t give up on the dream that you have. Continue to work toward your goal, continue in the pursuit of what you want.”
FFA is a national youth leadership organization that prepares students for growth and career success through agricultural education. O’Leary’s position allows him to travel and share information and motivational messages with FFA high school students across the country. As president of the organization, he represents over 700,000 members across 7,500 Chapters. So, when Sky View High School’s FFA advisors were approached with the opportunity for a visit from O’Leary, they were thrilled. “Not very often do you get to have one of the National FFA Officers come to your local community or state,” shared Clinton Aston, an advisor. “O’Leary’s visit shows how a large organization with many members from diverse backgrounds, wearing the same blue jacket, really can have an influence on each individual.”
Each of Cache County School District’s five high schools offers an FFA program that is integrated into classroom lessons as well as before- or after-school opportunities for hands-on learning. Participants can be in any grade and any student who is enrolled in an agricultural education class is encouraged to join. The program covers twenty-two career development areas: from forest or wildlife management to food production to home and community development. “FFA covers any area related to agriculture, food, fiber, natural resources, environment, agronomy, and animal science,” said Aston. “The sky’s the limit.”
The FFA organization hosts a number of local, area, state, and national events, fairs and competitions. Students who compete can win a variety of recognitions, awards, and scholarships. CCSD high school students have traditionally represented our district well in the competitions. Last year, for example, Mountain Crest High School student Wells Thompson placed third in the National FFA Creed Speaking Contest and Sky View High School’s Dairy Judging Team won the state competition and went on to place silver at the national level. Even our district advisors perform at a high level: Sky View advisor Dave Erickson will be receiving an Honorary American FFA Degree at the National FFA Convention this October.
Benefits from participating in FFA are substantial. According to Aston, “Students have leadership experiences through various committees and teams; they compete and organize events with other members and learn to be part of a team. There are travel opportunities to gain experiences outside of Cache Valley and to see other career possibilities, as well as civic engagement in the community and learning to make positive choices as they live the FFA Code of Ethics.” He continued, “The confidence students receive as they participate and engage in FFA opportunities is probably the greatest benefit they receive.”