National FFA Convention and Expo wrapped up in Indianapolis, Ind., over the weekend with more than 70,000 students and advisors attending this hallmark event. In addition to hosting one of the largest conventions ever, National FFA set a new record for membership, topping 700,000 members this year.
AgDay’s Clinton Griffiths caught up with the CEO Mark Poeschl to ask him what's next.
“While there are 700,000 FFA members, there are over a million young people that are in ag education, which means we have about a 70% market share,” Poeschl said.
By the time FFA reaches its centennial in 2028, the organization’s goal is to have every student in agricultural education be a part of FFA.
“And that's not about the numbers,” Poeschl said. “That's really about making sure that we expose students to the activities that we have in leadership development and engage them in things that we think will make them very productive citizens and great talent for employers down the road.”
Plummer takes pollinator research to next level
Speaking of future careers, Griffiths had the opportunity to visit with many FFA members running for awards that will eventually guide them to future careers.
Olivia Plummer of Zane Trace FFA in Chillicothe, Ohio, was a star finalist in agriscience. During her freshman year of high school, she began running a beekeeping operation. To make her operation better, she began doing research.
“I started looking into pollen in honey and if it could actually benefit allergies or not. I was looking at pollen in honey between store-bought and local samples to see if my sample was better,” Plummer said.
She found that locally produced honey did have more pollen present than store-bought samples and, in some cases, she said no pollen was present in store-bought samples.
“I thought that was really interesting – the changes that happened there,” she said. “I also did a lot of other research looking at wintering beehives and insulating them over the winter. And eventually my senior year, I did some social science research and looked at improving knowledge around pollinators and my community knowing that I wanted to go into agriscience education in college.”
There have been many conversations focused around pollinators lately. Are we in a crisis with our pollinators? Griffiths asked.
“Back in 2015, it was a really big issue,” she said. “What I know most recently is that pollinators are starting to make a comeback with so much focus and effort being put in towards preserving them and taking care of them. I think it's going to be okay.”