September 2018
Youth Matters

FFA Sentinel: Alabama FFA State Officers Take on Washington, D.C.

 

Alabama state FFA officers meet with Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama’s 5th congressional district.

As the newly elected State Officers of the Alabama FFA Association, we had the opportunity to attend the first State Officer Summit, held in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., July 22-26. We started off our week by stopping by the Arlington National Cemetery. At the cemetery, we were able to witness with honor the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. While at Arlington we also viewed the eternal flame that stands by John F. Kennedy’s memorial and the 400,000-plus soldiers honored at the cemetery.

The purpose of our trip was not simply to take in the history and historic sites of our capitol. Throughout the week, we attended numerous leadership-training workshops that concentrated on advocacy. The State Officer Summit, hosted by the National FFA Organization, allowed 51 of the 52 state FFA associations to come together and have a voice on Capitol Hill. State Officers from across the nation were sent to put these skills to action; each state was able to speak to several of their congressional representatives.

Andy Chamness, Alabama FFA Executive Secretary, noted, "How many times does a 17-18 year old have the opportunity to meet with congressional leaders and advocate for agriculture? How many students have that confidence and skill set? FFA members do, and that is why American agriculture will stand solid because these young leaders are part of that inspiring task. I am so proud of our six state officers from Alabama and the work they are doing."

As we toured our National Mall, we were given examples of advocates, including: Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and the many soldiers who fought throughout history, by having the opportunity to visit iconic monuments such as the World Wars I and II, Korean War, and Vietnam memorials. We also had the honor to visit the Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR, and Dr. King Memorials as well as see the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building.

From left to right, Alabama FFA Executive Secretary Andy Chamness and state officers Summer Parker – Enterprise, President, Matthew Wilson – Horseshoe Bend, Secretary and  Maggie Edwards – Woodland, Vice President ,conduct legislative visits at the Capitol.

 

 

The 300 State Officers who attended the summit were fortunate enough to hear from Sonny Perdue, United States Secretary of Agriculture. While visiting, Mr. Perdue spoke to us about the future of agriculture being in good hands. Through this conference, State Officers from all fifty states and Puerto Rico were able to come together for one purpose: to further their knowledge of agriculture through advocacy.

As president and vice-president, Maggie Edwards and I participated in the State Leadership Conference. The purpose of this conference is to educate leadership delegates about the process of delegation. We reviewed the proposals for alterations to our organization, offered to the delegation from state associations and National FFA Staff.

As delegates, we received two extra days of training in order to ensure our knowledge of the proposals, prior to those proposals being discussed and voted on by a larger delegate body at the 91st National FFA Convention. We took part in deciding the committees that will meet at the National Convention and Expo in October. Maggie will be serving as a sentinel on the committee for the evaluation of agricultural opportunities within FFA programs and activities. I have the opportunity and responsibility to serve as chair on the committee to increase and improve the relevancy of FFA alumni and supporters.

 

The Alabama FFA State Officer team meeting with U.S. Representative for Alabama’s 4th congressional district, Robert Aderholt. Left to right are Treasurer, Ethan Phillips; Secretary, Matthew Wilson; Vice President, Maggie Edwards; U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt; President, Summer Parker; Sentinel, Kalyn Rouseand; Reporter, Preston Hughes.

As our week ended, the presidents and vice-presidents of all associations represented attended an Alumni and Supporters breakfast at the United States Department of Agriculture.

Gaining this new knowledge makes us confident that we can better our association. The team and I are very grateful for this opportunity to learn and look forward to continuing our year of service and applying our new skills here at home.

While we were continuing our training, the four state officers who were not in this portion of the delegate process, continued their training by attending a briefing from White House Staff in the Executive Building of the White House. Ethan Phillips, State Treasurer, said, "What an honor to be able to be in the White House knowing that the President of the United States is that close." On that particular day the President was meeting just across from where FFA members met with the European Union to discuss issues that directly relate to agriculture. This set of officers also had the opportunity to tour the National Museum of American History and see the Sweet Heart FFA Jacket on display in the Smithsonian.

All six Alabama FFA State Officers, the three District Presidents and one FFA member at large will represent the Alabama Delegation at the 91st National FFA Convention in October, where the delegate work that began here at our summit will be further discussed and voted on by the entire delegate assembly.

To find out more about the National FFA organization or Alabama FFA visit www.ffa.org or www.alabamaffa.org.

 

Summer Parker is a member of the Enterprise FFA Chapter and is currently serving as the Alabama FFA State President.