FFA groups, USDA, NCAE launch national alliance to champion ag education

By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 - The National FFA Organization and National FFA Foundation have entered into a new, strategic alliance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Council for Agricultural Education designed to develop agriculture students' skills, leadership qualities, personal growth and career success.

“This agreement is aimed at preparing and motivating the youth of America to undertake the challenges and reap the rewards associated with life in rural areas,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Working with our partners, we want to provide educational support and promote career opportunities in agriculture. This partnership will help meet the Obama administration's goal of raising a generation of Americans who are well educated, ready to lead their communities and strengthen the American economy.”

 Together we can feed the Bees

Vilsack signed the Jan. 20 agreement after a meeting in Washington with representatives from FFA, the National FFA Foundation, USDA and council.

The partnership establishes a general framework for cooperation between four entities, all of which work toward common goals of advancing agriculture education and increasing awareness about the importance of agriculture through assuring international competitiveness and the sustainability of the industry by creating a highly prepared workforce.

Under the agreement, FFA will work with USDA to identify needs and interests of agriculture teachers, students, communities, farmers, agribusiness and related groups. FFA will also collaborate with other USDA programs, such as 4-H and Agriculture in the Classroom, to extend efforts to educate and inform students about agriculture and promote awareness of career opportunities within the agriculture industry. The National FFA Foundation will pursue grants, cooperative agreements and contracts from both the public and private sectors to secure funding for collaborative projects.

“The National FFA Organization and National FFA Foundation believe that this new strategic partnership will heighten our collective focus on our common goals and significantly strengthen our combined efforts to effectively train and develop tomorrow's leaders in the science, business and technology of agriculture,” said Rob Cooper, executive director of the National FFA Foundation. “FFA is committed to increased collaboration with the federal government and council.”

USDA will designate top administrative staff to seek and communicate areas in which there is a match between the education delivery needs of USDA and the agriculture education initiatives offered by FFA and the council. USDA will also identify and provide opportunities, resources, input and coordination between USDA programs and FFA, the National FFA Foundation and the council. The council will work to bolster in-service education opportunities, develop forward-thinking instructional materials designed for agriculture teachers to utilize in their classrooms and help identify today's needs and interests of agriculture teachers, students, farmers, agribusiness leaders and communities in general.

The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of 523,309 student members as part of 7,487 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that fund FFA activities, recognize member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agriculture education. About 82 percent of all sponsorship dollars received by the foundation support FFA members and agricultural education opportunities.

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