Club profile: FFA


Ian Heath

When people think of extracurriculars, it is usually your regular activities such as football, basketball, baseball, and much more. People overlook your non-traditional activities, and one example of this is in the FFA (previously Future Farmers of America). When it comes to the hours spent before shows and competition, to the people behind the scenes who are heavily involved, the FFA is a demanding and rewarding extracurricular. People on the team have so much dedication toward and determination for everything they do for the organization.

The FFA is, at its core, an organization devoted to the advocacy and information of agriculture and the agricultural industry. The FFA, a multipronged organization, is guided by the three-ring model. The three rings represent SAE, FFA, and Classroom involvement, the core concepts of agricultural education and advocation. Aside from the leadership opportunities, there are Career Development Events, Leadership Development Events, and Show Team Competitions. The individuals that compete in these events put in hours of time, effort, and money in the lead-up to the competition. Where traditional sports develop your teamwork and work ethic, the FFA develops your career and leadership skills through CDEs and LDEs.

Anna Grace Whitlow, a junior, has been an active FFA member for the past three years and has a developing interest in sheep showing. She also participates in multiple CDEs each year. In an interview with her, we asked her a few questions about FFA and non-traditional sports.

What’s it like being in FFA?  

“It’s an experience as well as a roller coaster.”

How much time and effort do you put into preparing for shows?

“Preparing for shows is a 24/7 process and that is on top of school and family plans.” The amount of time that she puts into this is almost to the point of a football player. Sometimes people can be afraid to try new things. She says that her way of getting into the show was a close friend of hers and that if you are nervous about showing and you want to, “You never know until you try it!” She is very excited about this school year and what it has to bring for her and her future.

Ian Heath is a senior and an FFA officer. He is on many CDE teams as well as the swine show team. The time and effort that he puts into both are an incredible amount. He was asked:

What’s it like being in FFA?

“The entire organization is such a family. From state convention to our chapter meetings everyone is inclusive and always willing to help someone else out.” One thing that he talks about is how “Shows are won at home in the barn and not in the ring.” It is the countless hours that are spent working with and preparing the animals for the show that makes or breaks the show. Ian says that anyone interested in showing should try it because nobody is going to win their first show. The key to success is hard work and dedication. When asked about FFA and showing not being traditional sports he said, “All too often the show industry is overlooked completely. Showing livestock is more than just walking in the ring and coming out with a ribbon. It is the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears that these students put in at the barn. I can remember countless nights in the barn until after dark working or being in the barn so early I get to see the sunrise. Compared to other sports there are exponential amounts of work that go into these projects for students, and families to do what they love.”