Inside Look at OTHS Future Farmers of America

Vanessa Lingenfelter (2021-2022), Co-Managing Editor

Future Farmers of America (FFA) is oftentimes reduced simply to traditional farming, but the organization offers students a wide variety of opportunities to develop their unique passions, explore potential career avenues, and open up scholarship opportunities. Meanwhile, all members are supported by a solid moral system that binds them together.

The OTHS FFA chapter members do not just preach the organization’s values of community, work ethic and genuine commitment to their work, they regularly put those beliefs into practice as well. The ethos of FFA was clearly exemplified in their preparation leading up to their recent district competition.

“When you go to district you’re competing for banners, but when you’re in front of these judges, you are trying to advocate for what you find concerning and you say it with all of your heart,” said junior Josephine Griffith, Vice President of the OTHS FFA chapter.

On Nov. 8, the OTHS chapter of FFA competed in the fall district competition for Leadership Development Events (LDEs). The students participated in a diverse array of events, including Quiz, Agricultural Issues, Creed and Spanish Creed. Raising animals is a major part of FFA, with summer months being primarily geared towards that aspect and are referred to within the organization as projects.

“Projects are involved in supervised agricultural experiences, that can be anything from having a little lawn mowing business to working,” said Griffith. “It’s something you make money from and raising animals is the main one.”

FFA provides students with a strong community to work with and a solid support system to guide them throughout high school as they develop their passions, their sense of leadership and the practical skills they will need to succeed in their futures.

“Speaking in terms of teamwork, leadership, speaking ability, business management, everything is so ingrained in FFA that we are going to be ready for the workforce no matter what,” said Griffith.

FFA is a full time commitment, requiring rigorous dedication. Time management and organization is essential, with members having to carefully plan out their schedules and hold themselves accountable to it in order to succeed.

“I have to plan my day a week in advance just to make sure I can have well-rounded days,” said Griffith. “I have to be at the barn by 6:00 a.m. and get to school by 6:45 a.m so I’m not rushing in the morning, and I have to finish any homework I have for my classes that come later in the day.”

Students necessarily build a sense of personal responsibility and pragmatism that is invaluable all throughout one’s life, clearing out a path for students to easily transition from education to the workforce. The organization is also incredibly diverse, with events such as Spanish Creed that opens up the opportunities it offers to a broader range of individuals, breeding a positive and inclusive environment.

“Being in Texas, we have a lot of Spanish speakers because of our proximity to Mexico along with our job opportunities,” said Griffith. “It helps involve more different people and ethnicities in FFA. It’s really cool to watch because having someone speak in a different language but saying the exact same words that you’re saying really helps involve a lot more people.”

Another way FFA practices its value of mutual support and community is through the structure of their meetings themselves. It is run democratically in nature, giving all members a voice while also having competent and qualified student leaders to provide structure and guidance. The process to become a leader is thorough and meticulous. It requires potential candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, be interviewed by an Assistant Principal and Agricultural teacher from another school about what they have done for their community, perform a speech, and undergo teacher reviews.

“It is very democratic because we have to go through tedious cycles,” said Griffith. “We don’t really do a debate, we have more of a point system to decide who’s an officer. So it doesn’t necessarily work exactly like the actual government but it is pretty personal, like people’s choice.”

A closer examination reveals a productive, inclusive and uplifting environment that guides young people towards a brighter future with practical skills and ethics for career and personal development that sticks with students for life.

“It’s very hard to get people involved because as soon as they think of FFA, they think ‘I’m going to go and harvest corn,’ but a majority of us don’t go into farming,” said Griffith. “People go into veterinary science. We have a kid who’s going into international security for the military, we have someone who’s going into government accounting. People go all over the workforce because FFA is mainly about preparing for the workforce and just being able to be responsible.”