Agriculture educators are far more than just teachers or FFA advisors. They play a critical role in student success by working as the cornerstone for student exposure to agriculture and a springboard for opportunities and growth. From a student’s very first class to their last one, agriculture educators work tirelessly connecting their students with opportunities, encouraging them to try new things, and exposing them to new experiences and ideas.
If you ask anyone about their time in the blue jacket, they will almost always mention the impact their ag teacher had on them and their experience. That is because the role an ag teacher plays is instrumental to their success and overall experience. Ag teachers are a student’s loudest cheerleader, biggest advocate, and catalyst for growth.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Bailey Grove, 2020-2021 Idaho FFA State Reporter, knows firsthand the important role an ag teacher plays on an FFA member’s journey. Bailey does not hail from an agriculture background and while both her parents participated in FFA, she had no plans on joining herself. Yet on her 1st day of school, she enrolled in an agriculture course and was quickly hooked on the blue jacket.
“My ag teacher, Mr. Hoffman, navigated me towards my interests and showed me all that FFA and agriculture had to offer,” said Bailey, “After I spoke the Creed and attended State Leadership Conference that year, I was hooked.”
At that point, Bailey jumped in headfirst into all things FFA by competing in as many Career and Leadership Development Events and attending as many FFA conferences as possible. By the beginning of her junior year, that hard work, started to pay off when she qualified for the National Soils contest and was elected to be the North Idaho District Reporter.
With each new achievement, came new interests and areas to explore, and there the whole time encouraging that growth and helping in every way possible, was Mr. Hoffman. While the District Reporter, Bailey became interested in marketing and communications, which led to participating in the Marketing Plan CDE. Her team went on to win the Idaho FFA State Marketing Plan CDE contest and then competed at the 2019 National FFA Convention.
A LASTING IMPACT
Each step of the way, Mr. Hoffman played an instrumental role. From encouraging Bailey to pursue this interest, to connecting her to resources necessary for success, to supporting her every step of the way, Mr. Hoffman served as the springboard for new experiences, opportunities, and growth. Through the good times and bad, Mr. Hoffman stood as a constant, continuously opening doors for new experiences. Now looking back, Bailey realizes the lasting impact FFA and her ag teacher had on her.
“As a freshman, I was super introverted. I had no confidence and I could not speak in front of people. Joining FFA changed that,” said Bailey, “I wouldn’t be here without Mr. Hoffman.”
Because of these cumulative experiences, Bailey now plans to become an agriculture educator herself.
“I realize how important FFA was to me and the impact my ag teacher had on me,” said Bailey, “I want to pay it forward and be to students what Mr. Hoffman was to me.”
Regardless of your background, your interests, or where you are from, every student can find a home and success in the FFA. Agriculture educators take students and mold them into their full potential by exposing them to different opportunities and guiding them along various avenues, they are the cornerstone of growth for students everywhere.
The Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame Banquet on March 13, 2020 in Fort Hall, Idaho brought together five of eastern Idaho’s most distinguished leaders in the agriculture industry to be recognized for their dedication and service to the industry. In total, 381 guests along with Celia Gould, Director of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, and Governor Brad Little were in attendance.
Idaho FFA State Vice President Shalani Wilcox, Teton FFA members Kayden Driggs and Jazz Winder, American Falls FFA member Gracie Nelson, and Burley FFA member Clayton Beene assisted with the event. After leading the pledge of allegiance, our FFA members directed guests through the buffet lines and assisted those with limited mobility. Each member was assigned to one of the inductees being honored and were responsible for escorting them to the staging area and accompanying them on stage for their awards and acceptance speeches. FFA members had the opportunity to network with prominent producers and agribusiness owners in eastern Idaho. “It was a great experience being able to represent the FFA at a banquet full of agricultural supporters,” said Shalani Wilcox, FFA State Vice President, “All five of us loved helping and talking with industry leaders including Celia Gould, ISDA Director!”
“When we asked if a group of FFA officers could assist with the Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame banquet again this year we were confident we would have top-notch help - and they did not disappoint!” said Sarah Skaar, Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame, “These young Ag leaders received many compliments and thanks for their assistance. They were pros!”
Saydee Longhurst, 2018-2019 Idaho FFA State President, received Ed Duren Memorial Young Producer Award for her commitment to production agriculture, innovation, and agriculture leadership. Longhurst runs a successful hay business called Cleo’s Cuttings which sells small bale bundles of straight alfalfa hay and an alfalfa/grass hay mix. The business served as Longhurst’s Supervised Agricultural Experience during her time in FFA, and she credits FFA to setting the groundwork for her to build the project into a full-time business.
“I was truly honored to have been nominated and selected for the Ed Duren Young Producer Award. I am proud to be a part of Idaho Agriculture, especially Eastern Idaho Agriculture and to be a recipient of this award for advocating and working in an industry I truly have a passion for was so humbling. It was especially humbling to be the youngest individual to receive the award as well as the first female recipient,” said Longhurst.
Congratulations to Saydee Longhurst and the other award winners, we are grateful for the work you do for the agriculture industry and the example you set for the thousands of Idaho FFA members!
The Idaho FFA Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under
Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
To learn more about the Idaho FFA Foundation and how you can become involved, please contact:
Marcia Jedry CAE, Executive Director
Idaho FFA Foundation, Inc.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 827, Star, ID 83669