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Career and Technical Education (CTE) | Agricultural Science | FFA

What Is FFA and How Does It Benefit Agriculture Students?

February 9th, 2023 | 5 min. read

Mike Cescon

Mike Cescon

With past experience in teaching, a couple of degrees in writing, and an upbringing immersed in medical jargon, Mike is positioned well to hear out the most common questions teachers ask about the iCEV curriculum. His goal is to write content that quickly and effectively answers these questions so you can back to what matters - teaching your students.

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Whether you’re new to teaching agricultural science or just want to become more involved in the community, one of the most important groups you need to learn about is the National FFA Organization.

Every year across the country, thousands of students and employers gather at FFA events to compete, learn new skills, and network so they can get their careers started right. 

So what is FFA? And how and why do students become members?

In this article, you’ll discover answers to the most common questions teachers ask about FFA:

  1. What Is FFA?
  2. Who Can Join FFA?
  3. How Does FFA Benefit Your Students?
  4. How Can You Support Your Students in FFA? 

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of this pivotal organization so you can decide whether it will benefit your students. 

1. What is FFA?

The National FFA Organization is a non-profit career and technical student organization (CTSO) dedicated to promoting career success for students in the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources career cluster

FFA is student-led, dynamic, and determined to help students grow personally, as well as develop critical career and leadership skills. It accomplishes this through national events, programs, contests, and more. 

Currently, there are over 850,000 FFA members across nearly 9,000 chapters. These chapters exist in every state in the US. 

2. Who Can Join FFA? 

FFA is open to students from grades 7-12, and offers collegiate affiliation. However, to join, a student must be enrolled in at least one CTE agriculture class. From there, they can contact their school counselor or agriculture instructor to officially register.

Membership fees for FFA are generally inexpensive. It usually only costs $7 annually to remain a member of the National FFA Organization. State or local chapters, however, might charge more for membership in addition to the $7 fee.

If your school or district doesn’t have a local FFA chapter for your students to join, then they may be able to join a neighboring district’s chapter, depending on your state. Alternatively, you could start your own FFA chapter at your school. 

One important point to remember is that FFA is intended for more than just future farmers. Those who would benefit from joining FFA include prospective scientists, government officials, doctors, veterinarians, business leaders, teachers, environmentalists, and more.

3. How Does FFA Benefit Agriculture Students? 

When students join FFA, they gain access to a nationwide network of peers, support, training events, competitions, and more to hone their skills and confidence. In particular, there are three pillars of student development that FFA builds its organization upon: 

  • Leadership Skills - FFA prides itself on the many leadership opportunities it offers to students in order to raise the next generation of agricultural pioneers. Some of these opportunities include agricultural advocacy, parliamentary procedure competitions, and cabinet leadership positions for local, state, and national FFA chapters. 
  • Career Skills - FFA also strives to help students hone essential career skills via trainings and competitions. Each year in the spring, it hosts Career Development Events (CDEs) in which students use industry practices to solve problems or compete in teams or individually. Some of these CDEs include creating marketing plans, learning agribusiness management, and evaluating livestock
  • Personal Growth - Beyond learning leadership or career skills, another major goal of FFA is to ensure students experience personal growth. To that end, the organization offers CDEs based around subjects like public speaking, so that students can improve their confidence and become more well-rounded. 

All in all, there are many benefits to joining the National FFA Organization. Students can gain friendships and mentors, practice essential skills, learn to be leaders in their industry, win competitions, and ultimately become the best versions of themselves possible. 

4. How Can Teachers Support Their Students at FFA?

For teachers like you, looking to give your students the richest possible experience with FFA, there are two major ways you can support them: 

  • Keep students updated on FFA events and opportunities - For many agriculture programs, the teacher serves as the bridge between students and FFA. It’s critical, then, that you make students aware of any upcoming events (like National FFA Week) and opportunities they may be interested in. Students are busy, after all, and may miss out on life-changing experiences if you don’t keep them informed. 
  • Balance in-class instruction, FFA coaching, and work-based learning - Agriculture teachers often make the mistake of neglecting in-class instruction in favor of FFA coaching or work-based learning. This can lead to problems down the line, as students either miss out on necessary classroom knowledge or on valuable career opportunities. Instead, try to strike a balance between these three valuable class components, so your students receive a more well-rounded agricultural experience. 

While there are many other ways you can provide support and encouragement at FFA for your students, these methods will help put you ahead of the curve and solve problems that affect many agriculture programs. 

Need an Agriculture Curriculum Designed for FFA?

In this article, you’ve learned more about FFA, including what it stands for and how it can help benefit your students. So what’s next? What steps can you take to ensure your students succeed with FFA?

One of the best ways to prepare your students to join FFA is to implement a curriculum designed with FFA in mind. To that end, check out the Blue & Gold Experience series from iCEV!

This agriculture curriculum is designed specifically with the three pillars of FFA in mind. It provides lesson plans to fuel students’ leadership skills, career development, and personal growth through FFA, so they can make the most of their opportunities:

Discover FFA-Aligned Curriculum