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Oklahoma FFA Rides High in New Years’ Rose Parade

On New Year’s Day the national spotlight will be focused on the Oklahoma FFA Association, following the organization’s record-breaking year.

With millions of spectators from around the world watching, Oklahoma FFA President Amy Peel and Oklahoma’s Star Farmer of America recipient, Slade Nightengale, will represent the state in the first National FFA float during the 121st Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif.

Star Farmer of America is the top award given at the National FFA Convention with only four finalists nationwide. Nightengale is the second recipient in a row for the state and the eighth Oklahoman to win the award.  He is a student at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford and former Cordell FFA Chapter member.

Nightengale will join the other three American Star recipients to ride on the float. Peel will join the 49 other state FFA representatives to walk alongside the float. Peel is an Oklahoma State University Agricultural Education major and former Wetumka FFA Chapter member.

FFA which is the student organization affiliated with Agricultural Education is an integral part of the CareerTech system. Oklahoma’s FFA membership of 23,426 last year ranks among the top in the nation.

Included among other national record-setting Oklahomans are the 27 finalists and 11 winners of the National Proficiency Awards.  Additionally, with the most of any state, the National Chapter Award went to 33 of 36 chapters, each receiving a Three Star rating, and 203 members who received the American FFA Degree.

Slade Laila

Peel believes the float in the parade will bring positive publicity for FFA both nationally and internationally.

 

“This is a record-breaking year for Oklahoma FFA from a national standpoint,” Peel said. “As state president, it is a humbling experience to be part of something so much bigger than me. As a state officer, it’s such an honor to brag on the successes of members who have worked so hard and meet such high standards.”

The FFA float sponsor, RFD-TV, has actively supported National FFA through the years. This year’s parade theme, 2010: A Cut Above the Rest,” set the stage to feature the outstanding organization, according to RFD-TV Founder and President Partick Gottsch.

“When we first learned of the 2010 Rose Parade theme, we immediately thought of FFA,” said Gottsch.

“This is an opportunity to not only pay tribute to the world’s premiere youth organization but to showcase FFA activities on a world stage in the continuing effort to connect and educate the urban world about the positive aspects of rural America,” Gottsch said. “Never before has there been a chance to showcase good work being done by young leaders in agriculture on so many prime media outlets at once.

“From day one, RFD-TV’s primary goal has been to find common ground for urban, rural and suburban residents again. The Rose Parade provides a platform to the world. This is going to be good for FFA and  the entire agriculture industry,” Gottsch said. “It will take agricultural communications to a whole new level."

This international communication platform pushes the FFA mission and ideals beyond the boundaries of the United States.

“Agricultural Education prepares students for successful careers and a lifetime of informed choices in the global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resources systems,” said Oklahoma FFA Executive Secretary Peel Amy FFAKent Boggs. “The FFA motto gives members 12 short words to live by as they experience the opportunities in the organization. ‘Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.’”

Actively illustrating the motto, Oklahoma’s president has been named chair of the new National Delegate Committee called Global Engagement.

“Our question is ‘how can we (FFA) serve globally?’”, Peel said. “Both Japan and Thailand have Future Farmers organizations with one developing in Iraq. Laila Hajji, Guthrie FFA Chapter, served as National Central Region vice-president in 2008-2009, giving her the opportunity to have a voice in developing programs such as FFI (Iraq).”

Howard G. Buffett, an Illinois farmer, philanthropist and son of one of the world’s richest men, spoke in Washington, D.C. about the new FFA committee and its importance in educating students about world issues such as sustainable agriculture and service, poverty, hunger, food supply and the lack of resources, according to Peel.

“Once the committee makes recommendations to the National FFA Board of Directors and they are approved, then we can begin building programs addressing humanitarian efforts toward ending poverty and hunger worldwide,” Peel said.

 

Written by: Ann Houston

Publish Date: November 12, 2009

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