What Does Being in the FFA Mean to You?


Sophomore Vet students work on trimming the nails of Kanga the Border Collie during their grooming unit. These opportunities through the FFA allow students to explore their future career paths and find their passions. (Woodbury FFA)

Genieva Pawlowski, Campus News Editor

WOODBURY — I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds.

For the future of agriculture, the FFA — or as it was previously known prior to 1988, the Future Farmers of America — represents the whole agricultural community around the globe. With their noble intentions and all around drive to bring positivity to the table, the FFA supporters put honor on the name. 

At Nonnewaug, students and staff who share this title of member strive to keep the school involved by creating opportunities for grades 9-12 to earn FFA credit which is a requirement with students.

The question remains: Why is FFA so important to NHS?

Several agriscience teachers at NHS are alumni who continue to support the FFA in their teaching efforts and fundraisers such as “Mane and Tails,” run by Marissa Bedron, the equine management instructor at NHS and 2010 graduate. 

“It provides students with extremely important opportunities that all students should have, but most high schools do not offer,” says Ed Belinsky, the director of the Ellis Clark Regional Agriscience and Technology Program at Nonnewaug.

When asked to describe the FFA in three words, many students and teachers agreed on leadership as a top pick.

“Leadership, friendship, and experience,” says Faith Lally, the junior historian for the Woodbury FFA chapter.

“Fun, passion, and leadership,” says Leah Quijano, an involved agriscience senior at NHS.

“[The FFA] teaches leadership, public speaking, problem solving, working with a group to accomplish a task, and allows students to continue learning about their interests outside of the classroom,” says Belinsky.

In the agriscience building, students are taught to value their leadership and set a positive example for the chapter while in the classroom and out of it by using skills taught throughout their years.

Bowling Night kicked off FFA week in February. (Woodbury FFA Instagram)

“A quality that FFA members should have is leadership,” says Quijano. “Being in the FFA program gives you lots of opportunities to be a leader in your own way. You’ll thrive in the program if you take these opportunities.”

Being a member in this organization gives students more than enough opportunity to expand their personal thinking and gives members challenges to refine their agricultural future endeavors. 

“An FFA member should have the desire to make themselves a better person,” says Jamie Paige, the vice president of the Woodbury FFA chapter, “whether this means developing skills like leadership confidence or public speaking.”

The program’s successes are truly immeasurable. Ranging from annual accolades earned at national and state competitions, to alumni working in the field of agriculture, the Woodbury FFA’s reputation is gilded — and for good reason. 

The program has a rich history and strong reputation on the national level, winning numerous awards including being a three-star chapter and a National Chapter Award finalist for their program of activities, that is all student run.

Students believe that being part of this community or family, as many say, has been nothing but beneficial in their high school career. Whether it was from making friends or getting involved, the FFA has turned out to help them in a positive way.

Being part of the FFA is important to me because it gives me more knowledge and more friends,” says Quijano. “The more involved I became, the more friends I made.”

Many of the student members agree that the FFA has helped doors open for them career-wise. It gave them the skills and knowledge to adapt to a new lifestyle of their careers. For students like Paige, the FFA has helped her discover her passion.

“If it wasn’t for the FFA, I wouldn’t know what to do. I have found my friends, passion, and the kind of person I am through the FFA,” says Paige.

To pinpoint one aspect that makes the FFA so great wouldn’t be possible in such a broadened community. When asked about his favorite part of the FFA, Belinsky explains that every class has aspects that makes it special. 

“My favorite part of FFA is that students get to experience their interests on a national level,” says Belinsky. “Whether you are interested in veterinary science, forestry, mechanics, floriculture or livestock judging, you get to meet thousands of people throughout the country with the same passions as you.”

A community of many turns into a family once the day is done in the agricultural field. All classes collaborate to get tasks done, especially in the spring. These skills that the students pick up will be carried into their lives of work, and the reasoning behind it all is the FFA.

“Over the years, I have seen students and graduates accomplish incredible things. I believe that much of their success is based around the increased self-confidence that was taught to them through FFA,” says Belinsky. “They learn to overcome obstacles, follow their hearts, and to persevere.”