From driving tractors to school to showcasing the production of food, ag students across Iowa are celebrating FFA Week. For 85 years, the group has taught the importance of agriculture to young men and women. Kurt Veldhuizen, an FFA instructor in Webster City, says the Iowa chapter has seen a record increase in members since the early 1980s, before the farm crisis.
“We have over 13,000 now in Iowa which is a multi-decade high,” Veldhuizen says. “It’s a sign of good quality ag teachers in all of our schools and students who want to take advantage of all the opportunities FFA offers.” Some rural kids want to farm when they grow up, but many others haven’t figured out what they want to do yet.
“I have several members who might not be looking 100% towards agriculture,” Veldhuizen says. “They might be looking at health services or something like that, but they see the benefits of the leadership skills.” He says the program really allows young people to blossom, especially when they stay through all four years of high school.
“As an instructor, that’s my greatest joy, when members graduate and I can look at them and recall what they were like as freshmen and how much they’ve grown,” Veldhuizen says. “Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what they are going to enter in because they are going to make a difference in the world and be good, positive leaders.”
FFA is not only big in the small towns of Iowa. There is a very active chapter in Des Moines, while one of the region’s largest chapters is in Chicago. Learn more at: www.ffa.org
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City