Investing in Tomorrows Leaders: Attala County Farm Bureau Supports FFA Students

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*Story by Sarah Grimstead Cotten, Attala County Women’s Programs Chair

Mississippi Department of Education says Mississippi FFA is making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. Mississippi Farm Bureau is an official sponsor of FFA and remains committed to supporting leaders of tomorrow by investing in today.

For over ten years, the Attala County Farm Bureau has proudly invested in our local FFA chapter students with a unique collaboration. Pictured in the photo above are the five students from this year who benefited from the Greenhand FFA jacket donation.

In 2013, FFA Sponsor and New Agriculture Instructor Kenneth Georgia was instrumental in laying the foundation for the partnership with Attala County Farm Bureau and Attala County FFA Chapter.

It was based on the program, “Gift of Blue” where other states like Maryland and California offer a limited number of jackets at a discounted price to deserving students. Georgia introduced the idea of students earning their jackets by meeting the qualifications of the Chapter level Greenhand FFA Degree, the first of four FFA Degrees. To be eligible students recite the creed, motto, salute, and mission statement in addition to the meaning of the colors, emblem, as well as display knowledge of the Code of Ethics in front of a panel of judges. Farm Bureau proudly bought six jackets for chapter members in the 2013 – 2014 school year. Since then, some seventy-five jackets have been purchased by the Attala County Farm Bureau for senior FFA Chapter students ranging in cost from $65-$85.

Based upon Official FFA Jacket policy, FFA jackets are sold to and are to be used by active constitutional FFA members only. In 1933, the blue corduroy jacket was adopted by FFA as “Official Dress.” Now, 87 years later, that tradition continues. More than 50,000 jackets are manufactured every year. As of 2024, there are 945,988 student members Nationwide, with 9,163 local FFA chapters in all fifty states. Presently, the Mississippi FFA Association has 2,371 FFA Senior members in 113 local FFA Chapters, students in ninth grade are senior chapter members. The Attala County FFA currently has 11 Chapter Members. Participation varies by year, in 2016, Georgia recalls membership was as high as twenty.

Georgia says “enrollment varies due to many issues, mostly with recruitment and scheduling because of the three different schools we service. It is notable that the quality of students has improved. Farm Bureau is a name recognized by most in the south and knowing that raises the level of professionalism and effort on the students’ part. Pairing this with the additional opportunities that promote Ag, like “Ag in the Classroom”, Farm Days at elementary schools, and Annual FB Membership Dinner, students understand how vital agriculture is to our great state and how significant of a role Farm Bureau plays in telling that story.”

Additional outreach to citizens, especially those who live an agrarian way of life, can encourage more involvement in our county. This will help to increase the quality of the agriculture students that enter the program. It may also open more advancement in FFA programs, increasing the number of educational scholarships received, and encourage involvement in successful agricultural professionals we need to address the challenges of this career pathway.

When Georgia was asked “What can we do as Farm Bureau members to promote FFA in our communities?” He replied.

“Tell the story of Agriculture.” At every opportunity, explain to others how our quality of life is where it is through the consistent improvement in food science, animal production technology, and energy. Around every corner, there is a dedicated agriculture professional farming, processing, transporting, inspecting, monitoring, legislating, teaching, and promoting agriculture. We all bear the burden of helping the public, who is far removed from Ag, understand what we do to help provide access to the quality of life we enjoy. Although we sacrifice so much already, we cannot fail to “Tell the Story.”

Attala County Farm Bureau is proud to grow, lead, and inspire the FFA students in our community. Perhaps you can find other ways to encourage youth to choose agriculture in your county too. We can all find ways to “Tell the Story of Agriculture.”

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