“Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man.” — President George Washington
As we celebrate National FFA Week, we remember perhaps one of our strongest advocates in history — President George Washington, a man who would rather spend time on his farm than be emperor of the world, and a man whose legacy and support of agriculture are celebrated annually for an entire week during the month of February. In 1947, the National FFA Board of Directors designated the week of George Washington’s birthday (Feb. 22) as National FFA Week to celebrate his contributions to agriculture and advocacy on behalf of farmers.
Agvocacy is a strong component of our culture here at Stine, and that’s why we proudly support the FFA. Many of our employees actually started off as members of the FFA, and their experience as future farmers helped strengthen their bond with agriculture and served as a steppingstone to their careers in the ag industry.
In honor of National FFA Week, we asked a few of our regional sales agronomists about their time in the FFA and how the organization helped pave their future to Stine.
RSA Jaye Sanstrom, Region12 — I met my husband for the first time at an FFA leadership conference as a sophomore in high school. We were married eight years later and now have two future FFA members of our own. We keep a photo of the day we first met so that one day our kids will ask us about our blue and gold jackets. FFA was a huge part of my high school years, as well as the first few years of college. I was the first member from my high school in 76 years to be awarded the American FFA Degree, which is given to members who have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to FFA and made significant accomplishments in their Supervised Agricultural Experiences. After retiring my blue and gold jacket, I founded our local FFA alumni chapter to support the high school FFA chapter. Over the past 10 plus years, the Chrisman-Scottland FFA Alumni chapter has provided funds for students to attend various leadership-building conferences and conventions, purchased new agricultural training materials for the classroom and contests, and awarded multiple scholarships in addition to spending countless hours volunteering to help students prepare for life. My husband and I continue to live by the first 17 words of the FFA creed, “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds.” Support your local FFA!
RSA Justin Oden, Region1 — I started in 4-H when I was nine years old and then transitioned into FFA my freshman year of high school. I showed livestock at the county fair as well as at the Iowa State Fair until I was 21. I was also active in soil and livestock judging. I really enjoyed going to the National FFA Convention every year, which at the time was held in Kansas City, Missouri. And I will never forget my FFA advisor and vocational ag teacher Dianne Strickler. She was like an old mother hen and took care of, watched over and supported her students with all their endeavors.
RSA Todd Schomburg, Region 4 — I started FFA when I was a freshman in high school. We did a lot of activities, including livestock judging, meat judging and showing pigs and sheep. FFA teaches members about responsibility and knowing what you need to learn in agriculture. I was fortunate to have a tremendous ag instructor that was with me from the very beginning until the end of my FFA career — David Flint. He was with me through county fairs and state fairs, and any type of judging contest I was a part of. My senior year, in 1981, I was the president of the Hampton Tall Corn chapter. At that point in time, I was hoping to become a farmer and help out on our family farm. Although I’m an agronomist and not a grower on my family farm, my experience with the FFA better prepared me for going into the ag industry than what I even realized at the time it took place. To current members of the FFA, remember to participate, participate, participate. Do everything you can; the more you do, the more you learn. It’s a tremendous experience, and no matter if you intend to stay with agriculture or not, it’s still a great way to learn and become a better person.
For more information on National FFA Week, visit https://www.ffa.org/ffaweek.