October 2017
Youth Matters

FFA Sentinel: Back to Our Roots

FFA Leadership Training


Gracen Sims of the Marbury FFA Chapter is currently serving as the State FFA Secretary.

Alabama FFA is still a career and technical student organization offering premier leadership training and opportunities at a grassroots level. As part of the FFA’s mission, it is important to understand that FFA is not just a vocational education course but a leadership training ground as well as an avenue for student achievement beyond the classroom. Our officer teams, both at the state and district levels, experience a multitude of training in regards to how they go out and share the FFA and agriculture story.

The state officers participate in many training sessions prior to the Chapter Officer Leadership Workshop. We first attended the Alabama Career & Technical Student Organizations Leadership Summit, where we met with the state officers from other CTSOs. We learned about leadership and really began to bond as a team.

The following week, we were so excited to attend the National Leadership Conference for State Officers in Raymond, Mississippi, at the Mississippi FFA Association Camp. The Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi FFA Associations learned from awesome facilitators about building up our state officer teams, how to develop workshops and facilitation techniques. We had a great time building lasting friendships with the other state associations!

Soon after NLCSO, the team traveled to Auburn for our Blast Off conference, facilitated by former National Officer Joenelle Futrell (2012-2013 Eastern Region Vice President). We learned about our personal strengths and weaknesses, leadership levels, influences and accountability. One of the highlights from this conference was being able to go back to our roots and really reflect on our personal strengths and weaknesses. We learned how we would use them to our advantage.

Alabama FFA State Officers attend Blast Off Leadership training and visit Paramore Angus farm.


One of my favorite activities from Blast Off was the Joy Jars we made. Throughout the week we wrote encouraging notes to each other and at the end of the week we opened our jars and read all the encouraging and positive letters from our teammates to keep with us throughout our year of service.

Next, we got to try out all our newly developed skills at the District Officer Leadership Conference in Columbiana at the 4-H Center. We could not wait to meet all the 2017-2018 District Officer teams. Here we each led workshops, group activities, made new friendships with these awesome officers and prepared for the 2017 COLW!

COLW was held on July 17-18 at six locations across Alabama. Here, the district officers conducted workshops for chapter officers so they could learn how to run efficient and effective meetings. We helped create Programs of Activities and Chapter Constitutions; and demonstrated parliamentary procedure, facilitation techniques, leadership, teamwork and numerous other beneficial skills for chapter officers to possess. The state officers were very excited to play a role at COLW. We led and facilitated workshops, met amazing FFA chapters and officers, and set up many chapter visit dates!


Alabama FFA State Officers at National Leadership Conference for state offices in Raymond, Mississippi, with the Louisiana and Mississippi FFA State Officer teams.

The chapter officers were given the opportunity to break into workshop groups with members from other chapters and counties. They shared ideas for the upcoming year for their chapters and built lasting friendships. The state officers learned so many valuable tools and ideas from the prior trainings, workshops, conferences and summits we attended this summer. Through these conferences, we learned how to go back to our roots to grow and build upon our chapters! FFA membership on a national level is made up of 649,355 students in seventh grade to 12th grade. These student members all belong to one of the 7,859 local FFA chapters throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Local FFA chapters are the roots in our organization.

The state officers are so excited to be able to get back to our roots and meet each chapter this year to grow the Alabama FFA Association!


Gracen Sims is the 2017-2018 Alabama FFA State Secretary.