“Your 2015-2016 California State FFA (Future Farmers of America) Reporter is….Danielle Diele!”
Prior to this announcement by the Past State FFA Reporter, my nerves grew as I thought of the past five years I was a part of the National FFA Organization. After these words were exclaimed, I ran up on stage in front of 6,000 FFA members and guests, knowing that my life would change immensely.
At this moment, I knew that the next 365 days of my life serving as a state officer would include going on agricultural industry visits, giving workshops at chapter visits, facilitating leadership conferences, and being an ambassador for California agricultural education’s 83,000 FFA members. However, I did not anticipate the passion I would grow for the people who play a role in agricultural education and the culture it creates on both the high school and collegiate level.
In the beginning of the year, my state officer team and I were blessed to go on countless industry tours. These included touring all steps in processing for Foster Farms in Livingston, CA; a meat processor for In-N-Out Burger, Central Valley Meats in Hanford, CA; Grimmway Carrots in Bakersfield, CA; Land O’Lakes Butter in Tulare, CA; and an organic farm, Full Belly Farm, in Guinda, CA. On these tours, I gained a plethora of knowledge and perspective on the agricultural industry as I learned from the managers, investors, and innovators of our expanding industry. While speaking with them, they shared their passion for agriculture, and how important they believe it is to educate. Whether they were a past FFA member themselves, or their daughter had just started her first day in an agricultural class, each leader of this industry had some sort of tie to education. By welcoming us into their facilities, they support students in agriculture and strive to educate, themselves.
This portion of the year showed me that regardless if you are a state officer, Cal Poly agriculture student, or even a first-generation FFA member, our industry and its leaders will go the extra mile to share with you a piece of agriculture from their view; and, when they do, it will be with a handshake and a smile. Agricultural students are blessed to have leaders who care about the future of our industry and the future of those who desire to be a part of it.
The families of agricultural education make this industry unique. This was proven to me during the middle portion of the year when I went on nearly 40 FFA chapter visits, and stayed in nearly 40 different homes of FFA members. These ranged from families who live on farms, to those whom have no tie to agriculture, and live in urban apartments. Through this, I got to see the power of agricultural education, and that it can shape the life of a child from a farm family or from an urban home. Each family and member I stayed with had a love for this organization. Students have shown me their homes, Supervised Agricultural Experiences, farms, and classwork with the utmost pride. FFA allows students of all kinds to go out of their comfort zones, and enables them an opportunity to learn and grow with an agricultural project, and an agricultural family. The agricultural advisors, whom have allowed their passion to shine through their students, foster this family. Even at Cal Poly, or any agricultural institution, we notice that our professors in the College of Agriculture care more about our success in comparison to professors in other colleges on our campus.
When I think back on my year as a state officer, I will remember the people; the members, the families, and the advisors. As I prepare for the State FFA Leadership Conference in less than two weeks, and the next name is called to be the 2016-2017 State FFA Reporter, I only hope that this person, too, will gain an appreciation for the people who nurture and support our organization and our industry. I am thankful for this year, and I am excited to build relationships with more industry leaders, families, and professors as a Cal Poly Mustang, once again.