2,300 in Lexington for state FFA convention, and they're not all farmers

Today's organization has new face, focus

kward1@herald-leader.comJune 9, 2011 

About 2,300 FFA members and supporters are in Lexington this week for the organization's annual state convention.

But aside from their signature navy corduroy jackets, this group looks vastly different from the Future Farmers of America of generations ago.

Kentucky FFA members who live on farms are now in the minority, and there are more females than males in leadership positions.

"When FFA was started, it was farmers. Farmers were guys," said state FFA president Logan Goggin, a 2009 graduate of Boyle County High School.

Over the years, he said, FFA has come to represent much more.

The organization, now officially known as the National FFA Organization, is as much about developing leadership skills among youth as it is agriculture.

Goggin quickly rattled off the organization's mission, which is to make "a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education."

And the scope of what agriculture entails has broadened.

"Agriculture is the number one industry in Kentucky," said Joenelle Futrell, state vice president and a 2010 graduate of Daviess County High School. "It's not all farming. There is an opportunity for you (in FFA) no matter what goal you're looking for."

Today's FFA members might go on to agriculture-related jobs in communications, law or food science, Futrell said.

Goggin and Futrell are both University of Kentucky students working on degrees in agricultural economics with an eye toward law school.

Justin Mitchell, a student at Harrison County High School who is attending this year's convention, hasn't grown up on a farm, and he hopes to study engineering in college.

But, he said, because of FFA, "I've really started to consider being an agricultural engineer."

The convention kicked off Monday with a day of service during which more than 100 students prepared food boxes at God's Pantry, cleaned at the Hope Center and Shillito Park and removed honeysuckle along the Legacy Trail.

The convention runs through Thursday, with competitions, leadership workshops and awards presentations.

Reach Karla Ward at (859)231-3314 or 1-800-950-6397 Ext. 3314.

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