IN DEPTH: Farming into the Future
An in-depth look at the Future Farmers of America.
April 26, 2019
The Future Farmers of America (FFA) is as foreign to CHS as the terms agronomy and horticulture, however it is an intriguing association that could offer much benefit to our school. To find out more about what they do, we visited the FFA’s 2019 California convention in Anaheim.
Inside the Future Farmers of America Convention
Reporter Alex Gresham, videographer Finn Corrigan and collaborator Emma Lupica learn more about the 2019 Future Farmers of America Conference in Anaheim, CA
Bright Futures at the FFA Convention
Sophomore Savanah Downs shares her experiences as a Regional Secretary of the Future Farmers of America.
Annually, the Future Farmers of America Association gathers together to learn about their trade and expand their education of agriculture. During this convention, students attend sessions led by experts and compete against their peers. Members such as San Joaquin Regional Secretary, Savanah Downs, attend in order to follow their life passions and make unforgettable memories.
From a young age, Downs has shown immense interest in the field of agricultural sciences. Her unique upbringing sparked this interest, but her love for the world of farming inspired her to further her knowledge on the subject.
“My family has always been in agriculture,” Downs said. “My mom was a florist and my dad is a farmer. My mom is now an Ag. teacher, so I’ve grown up around Ag. my whole life. I’ve lived in the city but I’ve moved several times. Now, I have a piece of property that I live on that is about 2.5 acres. I’ve grown up around Ag. my whole life and it’s family history. I am a sixth generation farmer.”
Downs has always been a part of this lifestyle, but her involvement with the Future Farmers of America has elevated this lifestyle into a passion and love. Although her time at FFA has been short, it has had an impact on her nonetheless.
“My mom became the FFA adviser at my high school, so I was kind of led into it,” Downs said. “I just dove into leadership and the activities. Currently, I am an FFA Regional Officer for San Joaquin, which is crazy. I just dove in and since then, I’ve gotten involved and its been so much fun.”
Her parent’s roles in the agricultural world have demonstrated how Downs can harness her passions into a future career. Because of the numerous branches of agriculture that catch her eye, it has been a challenge for Downs to narrow down her focus. However, there is nothing that beats her love for plant science.
“I am interested in plant science as a future career path,” Downs said. “My mom was a florist for a very long time, so I’m following her passion with that. I want to major in plant science or agronomy. Lately, I’ve been more interested with the citrus side of farming but maybe Veg. crops. I would like to be put into a manager or CEO position of a company. As for college, I would like to go to Cal Poly so that I can stay in state.”
Ever since she has established her goals for the future, Downs has been nonstop working to get there. From starting project after project, she has dedicated countless hours to her love of agricultural studies.
“I have a lot of projects,” Downs said. “On the animal science side, I have a poultry project, a goat project and swine production. I [also] showed a market lamb at the fair last year. As for plant science, that’s where my heart lies. Currently, I have three different SAE projects. I have a vegetable garden, a succulent indoor plant operation and a cut flower operation. I also do floral arrangements for special events.”
Downs’ contributions to the agricultural community have affected those inside and out of the FFA and her hard work has not gone unnoticed. Her work for her projects has won her the title if Regional Secretary of San Joaquin as well as awards earned through the FFA.
“I am a sophomore and most of the time sophomores don’t get this position,” Downs said. “It’s been crazy and I wasn’t expecting it, becoming a regional officer. In the future, the plan is to run for state office and I will be pursuing leadership within FFA even further. I am also receiving an award for my plant science projects. I’m applying and interviewing for a proficiency award for diversified horticulture.”
Although this recognition is extremely fulfilling, nothing can pass that making memories at the convention and bonding with her colleagues. Throughout her time as a member of the FFA, Downs has formed connections that she will never forget.
“Convention is a chance for the whole state to come together,” Downs said. “I get to meet so many new people here at State Convention and see all of my old friends which is amazing.”
“Convention is a chance for the whole state to come together. I get to meet so many new people here at State Convention and see all of my old friends which is amazing.””
As an active member of this Farmers of the Future community, Downs has experienced firsthand what they have to offer. By opening her mind to the experience that FFA provides, she has been able to learn lessons that will last a lifetime.
“There are so many different aspects to FFA, so I’ve been able to express myself through that. A lot of people think that FFA is just on the farming scale or you have to show an animal to be in FFA, but it’s leadership as well. Leadership is the thing that I really have come of age with. It’s taught me so many practical skills that I’m going to need after I graduate… interview skills, speaking in front of crowds, being able to have a conversation with someone one on one. It’s taught me practical skills and put them in a competitive setting. Because I’ve taken advantage of this, I’ve definitely grown as a leader and as a person.”
Do CHS Students Want a FFA Chapter?
Humans of FFA State Convention
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FFA Member Stephanie Murphy recounts an interesting experience with one of her pigs: “I was giving my pig medicine, and it was the oral kind so it wasn’t a shot or anything, and so I leaned over to put it in it’s mouth and squirted the syringe, the pig moved it’s mouth and the entire syringe of medicine went all over my face.”
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FFA Member Siana Barrett elaborates on a particularly stubborn cow on her ranch: “I was in the process of milking my Jersey cow, I had my head there, underneath her, and all of a sudden I’m hearing ‘boom boom boom boom boom’ as her knee is going up and hitting me on the side of the head. So I grabbed a rope and fashioned a hobble to keep her back legs down, and so instead she lifts both of her back feet off the ground and wraps her head around the stantion trying to bite me. Three hours later I finally get her milked.”
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FFA Member Manny Marquez recalls a hog wild memory from a kindergarten field trip: “I was in kindergarten on the usually yearly trip where we go to the fair to see the animals, and of course, my best friend Alex and a couple others ran into the show barn on show day. Inside there were three wild pigs and all the boys ended up getting hit by each pig, one got knocked against the gates, one got dragged across the barn until one of the teachers grabbed the pig and threw it, and the last boy got rescued by the supervisor before running into anything.”