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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Future farmers come to UA


Courtesy of National FFA Press Kit

The Future Farmers of America is a youth organization with an emphasis on agriculture. The organization will be holding a competition at the UA this weekend.

The UA will be hosting high schoolers from around the state who have taken the day off of school to compete in several different agriculture-based competitions on Friday.

Hosted by the Future Farmers of America, these competitions range from judging dairy cows, horses and pigs, to welding and even successfully navigating job interviews. Most of the events involving animals are being held at the UA Campus Agricultural Center, while others will be held on campus. An awards ceremony will be held at the Student Union Memorial Center. The first-place winners in most of these events get the chance to travel to Louisville, Ky., and compete at the national level. 

“These events are there to prepare them for the career they are choosing,” said Ali Schindler, an agricultural business and management freshman and FFA alumna. “I believe these competitions are based off of majors offered at the [UA].” 

The National FFA Organization website states that “FFA is an intercurricular student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership.”

As an agriculture-focused student group, FFA has been a recruiting ground for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The UA — and by extension, CALS — has been a partner with the Arizona FFA to support this focus on leadership and agricultural education.

“What we are finding for the campus is [the FFA] is recruitment for CALS, but other majors as well,” said Quintin Molina, associate professor in the department of agricultural education. “The students have already identified as potential candidates for majors.”

For many, FFA events held at the UA introduced them to the campus and gave them a push to become Wildcats. This was the case for Auburn Osborne, a veterinary science freshman and FFA state officer.

“It all started with Spring State freshman year, when I competed in Agricultural Business Management at the [UA Agricultural] Center,” Osborne said.

This may not be the case in the future, though. While membership in the National FFA Organization is growing, Arizona FFA is struggling in schools across the state. Agriculture programs — and as a result, FFA — are often on the chopping block when it comes to budgetary concerns. 

Ongoing budget debates between the Department of Education and Gov. Doug Ducey highlight this issue. If school funding is cut, programs such as agricultural education and FFA will, in all likelihood, be the first to go. 

“We have to be more creative,” Molina said. “We aren’t able to participate as much.” 

The FFA — both at the state and national level — combined to give out more than a million dollars in scholarships a year to deserving students in programs across the country. For many students, the FFA can mean the difference when it comes time for college tuition. 

“Without these connections, I wouldn’t have gotten these scholarships,” Schindler said. 

Despite these concerns, there are almost 7,000 FFA members in Arizona spread around 74 chapters at high schools around the state. Over 700 of those will be on campus in their official dress, ready to compete, according to a state officer.

So what does that mean you will see on Friday?

“Blue jackets,” Osborne said. “A sea of blue jackets.”


Follow Erik Kolsrud on Twitter.

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