FFA Advisors and Chapters recognized for agricultural advocacy efforts

Farm Forum

INDIANAPOLIS – In the fall of 2015, FFA advisors and members were challenged to share the message of agriculture through social media and using the hashtag #SpeakAg. The idea behind the movement was to get a conversation about agriculture and the importance it plays in everyday lives.

During the #SpeakAg challenge students self-estimated that they were reaching an average of 397 people.

After the challenge, Monsanto, who sponsored the challenge as a special project of the National FFA Foundation recognized two advisors and chapters for their efforts.

Misty Bivens, of the LaRue County FFA Chapter in Hodgenville, Ky., was awarded one of the $1,000 grants from Monsanto earlier this year.

“It is important to teach my students about advocacy,” Bivens said. “If we don’t take control of the message that is agriculture, others will tell our story for us. Being an informed agriculturalist makes students understand the realities of agriculture and the various aspects of it.”

The LaRue County FFA chapter used the money they received to do a service project at Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland, during National FFA Week in February. Members were able to bag 2,016 bags for the backpack program.

Trent Van Leuven, advisor of the Mackay FFA Chapter of Mackay, Idaho, agrees with Bivens on the importance of being an advocate. “Teaching about agricultural advocacy teaches students to use higher level thinking and identify false arguments. They learn that a majority opinion in the public’s mind does not necessarily make it a fact.”

Leuven and the Mackay FFA Chapter also received a $1,000 grant. The chapter plans to use the funds to help with travel to the National FFA Convention & Expo in the fall. Traditionally, the chapter takes a bus across country when traveling to the fall event. During that travel, students have an opportunity to experience different types of agriculture. Last year alone, 21 students from the chapter attended the event.