FFA members gaining skills in D.C. to bring back to local communities
FFA members from across the country are in the nation’s capital this summer to learn how to be changemakers and impactful leaders in their communities.
Facilitator Luc Sproles says a highlight of the Washington Leadership Conference is students developing a Living to Serve Plan.
“Which is essentially a community service project or initiative that they are going to be taking back home to their communities and starting with their local FFA chapters,” he says. “FFA has always been a grassroots organization that is really driven by its local members and so we’re just hoping here we can take students and empower them to go back to their communities and do some good in the world.”
To develop the Living to Serve Plan, members are asked to analyze the needs of their communities before attending the conference. Examples of projects in recent years include promoting agricultural literacy, bringing attention to abuse, and creating a hunger awareness plan.
Spencer Romans, an FFA member from Oregon, is participating in the conference.
“I think it’s incredibly important to take it back to your chapter because we can learn all these skills here and we can be inspired and we can learn all these tools to help us, but if we don’t take it back to our chapter, nothing’s going to get done,” he says. “Every single chapter needs to step up and take action. The National FFA Organization is not going to change unless each individual chapter creates change and the world can’t be a better place unless we start doing something small. We have to start with those small steps and with those small steps, great things can come to pass.”
He tells Brownfield it has been a life-changing experience.
“I sent out an Instagram post saying that I was coming to Washington Leadership Conference and I got so much feedback saying, ‘oh, you’re going to love it, I had the best week of my life, and it’s so amazing,'” he says. “I just want everybody to know that it really is amazing. I feel like I’ve already changed so much. I’ve already grown so much. My love for FFA has increased exponentially. It is very important if you are interested in an agriculture or leadership that this is something that you attend and something that you experience.”
For more than 50 years, thousands of FFA members have converged in the nation’s capital each summer to engage with legislators, hone civic engagement and leadership skills, and more.
The National FFA Organization’s Washington Leadership Conference is underway now until July 22. More than 2,000 members are expected to attend over six weeklong sessions. FFA members spend the week under the guidance of agricultural and leadership professionals, facilitators, and FFA staff who guide them through workshops, seminars, small group activities, and visits to national landmarks. Each day of the conference focuses on a different principle taught through the context of the nation’s capital: exploration, encouragement, advocacy, and service.
The conference is the second-largest student experience that the organization hosts annually, only behind the National FFA Convention and Expo that has about 70,000 attendees.
The 2023 Washington Leadership Conference is sponsored by Merck Animal Health, Syngenta, Farm Credit, PepsiCo, Rabo AgriFinance, and Growth Energy.
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Audio: Luc Sproles and Spencer Romans