The National Future Farmers of America (FFA) is the largest youth organization in the world. But don’t let the name fool you. FFA isn’t just for students who want to be farmers. While many FFA members do go on to enter careers connected with the agricultural industry, they also become doctors, teachers, scientists, and business owners.
Every February, FFA chapters across our nation celebrate National FFA Week, “a time to share what FFA is and the impact it has on members every day.”
We’re proud to take this opportunity to tell you more about Gills Onions’ personal connection to FFA and our joint commitment to developing future leaders through agricultural education.
What FFA Is All About
FFA is “an intracurricular student organization that prepares members for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.” Members live by the motto, “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, and Living to Serve.”
You’ll find local FFA chapters all over the United States. These chapters are chartered by public schools and overseen by a faculty advisor. Student officers are elected annually by the chapter members.
Local chapters make up state associations which operate under the federally-chartered National FFA Organization. State associations host their own competitions and award programs.
During their time in FFA, students can specialize in a variety of areas that relate to the agricultural industry and participate in Career and Leadership Development Events as well as a Supervised Agricultural Experience. These events cover topics like:
- Agricultural Communications
- Agricultural Sales
- Environmental & Natural Resources
- Public Speaking
- Food Science & Technology
- Marketing Plans
- Veterinary Science
In a nutshell, FFA brings communities together to work and learn about where their food comes from and the important impact agriculture makes in everyone’s lives.
Launching Careers in Agriculture
“I was born and raised in agriculture, but hands down, the only reason why I am working in agriculture today is because when I was in 8th grade, a high school Ag teacher came to my school to recruit for FFA,” Megan Jacobsen, Gills Onions’ VP of Sales & Marketing says. “When he started talking about the FFA creed and the words, ‘I believe in the future of agriculture,’ that was the introduction that set the path for the rest of my life.”
Each student in FFA participates in a Supervised Agricultural Experience, or SAE. For many students, that experience is showing an animal. But, her freshman year of high school, Megan chose Ag Communications, a combination of marketing, public relations, and advocating on behalf of agriculture. It became her major in college, and it’s what she does for Gills Onions today.
“I wanted to be an advocate, and FFA introduced me to what it meant to be a true advocate for the industry,” Megan says. “The only reason I even thought to choose Ag Communications as a career was because it was my project in FFA.”
Megan is the perfect example of the lasting impact FFA can have on students’ lives. Kids from major metropolitan cities and kids from rural farming communities alike can work together and connect with the natural resources that surround them.
FFA exposes students to all the intricacies of the agricultural industry. It goes beyond just the food we eat. The clothes we wear, the flowers we buy on Valentine’s day, and even the landscaping we do in our front lawns all come back to agriculture.
Supporting Our Local Chapters
Gills Onions and our parent company, Rio Farms, are proud to support our local California FFA chapters. We believe that any FFA chapter’s success is dependent upon the involvement of the local Ag community.
These chapters hold special significance to our company. The King City and Greenfield FFA chapters in the Salinas Valley are located where Steve and David Gill founded their first company, and the Santa Paula FFA is located near the Gills Onions processing facility in Oxnard.
Our leadership and employees show up to auction days at local fairs. We assist on student projects, provide sponsorships, and volunteer at events. Our employees are involved with the chapters in their own hometowns as well.
“Many of these students have met Steve and David Gill,” Megan says. “Now, when they go to the store and see our logo, they have a connection with where that product really came from, and they might think to themselves, ‘Maybe I could work at a place like Gills Onions someday.’”
By simply being engaged, we know we can help develop future leaders in many industries, including agriculture. So, join us in celebrating National FFA Week by supporting your local chapter today!