Scott Johnson, executive director of the Iowa FFA Association, says these young people are tomorrow’s leaders of America’s number-one industry, agriculture. Drive Your Tractor to School Day remains one of the organization’s most popular events in Iowa — and one of the most visible.
“I remember from my experiences teaching, it was always weather-pending,” Johnson says. “If FFA Week happened to be colder, Drive Your Tractor to School Day would almost always occur but sometimes it didn’t occur during FFA Week. You had to wait for it to be warmer for those old diesel engines to be able to fire up and survive a day in the open parking lot.”
FFA membership in Iowa hit an all-time high last year with more than 15,400 students wearing the familiar blue jackets. Johnson says membership has continued to grow over the past several years. “We’ve experienced about a 20% growth in membership,” Johnson says. “When I started in this position in 2012, we were right around 12,000 to 12,300. Now, we’re at 15,000.” The number of chapters statewide last year hit 242, which was also a record, one Johnson hopes to again surpass this year.
The Iowa FFA Association provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education, what he says is a growing field. “We see a few schools that are adding a second ag instructor,” Johnson says. “We continue to see schools adding new programs. We look forward to the opportunity to bring on-board a number of chapters for the 2019-2020 school year.”
The week gives members an opportunity to educate the public about agriculture through events including: service activities, appreciation breakfasts, dress-up days and Agricultural Olympics.