FFA National Conference comes to Rifle | PostIndependent.com

FFA National Conference comes to Rifle

RIFLE – About 150 high school freshmen from Rifle, Meeker, Fruita, and Montrose gathered at the Garfield County Fairgrounds on Wednesday, as part of the National FFA Organization conference.The conference is an educational event for the new freshmen students to understand what the organization is and has to offer.For Anita Estes, FFA Central Region Vice President, this conference was a huge step in the right direction. “This is the first big conference for Colorado,” Estes said. “We’re hoping to make this an annual event.”Estes has been in the organization for seven years, since her freshmen year in high school. She is currently in her junior year at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, but has taken the year off from school in order to perform her duties for the FFA. “There is just so much to do, it wouldn’t be possible to do this and attend school too,” Estes said.The organization has almost half a million members, with over 4,000 in Colorado. National and State officers, who are students themselves, were on hand at Wednesday’s conference. The event was to get the incoming freshmen involved and show them the leadership qualities of the program.”The officers were here today teaching and showing the freshmen what the program is basically all about,” Estes said. The program, started in 1928 in Kansas City Missouri, started out as the Future Farmers of America. In 1988 the name was changed to the National FFA Organization. The program teaches young students the importance of leadership through agricultural studies.Laura Vanlue, a Rifle High School senior, is very happy to be involved with the organization.”It’s been great,” Vanlue said. “I’ve grown a whole lot in this program.”Vanlue was home schooled for most of her academic career until her junior year, when she signed up to take some classes at Rifle High School. That is where she found out about the FFA program and became a member. “I grew up on a farm, so I am used to most of this stuff,” Vanlue said. “But (the program’s) not just about leadership, it gets you out there and prepares you for the real world.”Clayton Dowdell, president of the Rifle Chapter of FFA and a junior at Rifle High School, agreed with Vanlue.”I’ve definitely learned a lot about leadership,” he said. “You learn what agriculture is all about around the world, but it also prepares you for college.”Every year, state and national officers are elected in June. They work with local high school chapters to develop the students’ leadership skills.Each October there are leadership conferences that the students will attend to learn more about leadership and agriculture. There are camps for freshmen and new members, and another camp for students who have already been in the program for a year.FFA has an annual national conference as well. This year that conference will be in Indianapolis.”The national conference is an opportunity for FFA members to be trained in leadership by professionals,” Estes said. “The whole thing is just a great program for young students.”Contact John Gardner: 945-8515, ext. 535jgardner@postindependent.comBreakout-89 percent of FFA members are in grades nine through 12; 6 percent are in grades seven through eight; 5 percent are high school graduates-27 percent of FFA members live in rural farm areas; the remainder live in rural non-farm (39 percent), urban and suburban areas (34 percent)-FFA chapters are in 11 of the 20 largest cities, including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia-The top five membership states are California, Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio- The 75th National FFA Convention hosted 51,338 members, advisors and supporters

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