On June 25-30, 2019, three student State Officers of the Maine FFA Association (formerly known as “Future Farmers of America”) joined 23 of their counterparts from the other New England States for a regional leadership training held for the first time at Northern Vermont University (NVU) in Lyndon. Most costs for this event were generously supported by a grant from the AgEnhancement Program of Farm Credit East, along with additional funding by Farm Credit East and by Yankee Farm Credit. Maine FFA State Officers Graham Berry (President), Camryn Curtis (Vice President) and Ava Cameron (Secretary-Treasurer), were eager to gain leadership skills for the coming 2019-2020 school year. They traveled to Vermont with State FFA Advisor Doug Robertson, from the Maine Department of Education. On the way, they had the chance to experience the agriculture of Vermont, including a visit to Shelburne Farms, a 1,400 acre historic agricultural education facility on the shores of Lake Champlain, dating from the 1800s.
The purpose of the training was to prepare State FFA Officers to serve nearly 7,000 FFA members, grades 7 to 12, in the six New England States. As representatives of one of the largest student leadership organizations in the country, State FFA Officers are expected to organize leadership workshops, conferences and other events for their membership, composed of students studying subjects related to agriculture and natural resources, whether through middle/high school science curricula infused with agriculture topics, or through technical programs in areas such as horticulture, forestry, landscaping, natural resource management, and outdoor leadership.
In Vermont, three National FFA facilitators from California, Kentucky and Oregon led training sessions on areas related to Communication Skills and Workshop Development/Delivery, helping student State FFA Officers begin to create their own workshop sessions to bring back to their home states. Training logistics were overseen by host Vermont FFA Executive Director Suzanne Buck and Maine FFA State Advisor Doug Robertson. To complement their formal training, State FFA Officers also participated in hands-on teamwork/leadership training on NVU’s high and low ropes courses, successfully undertaking team and individual challenges. Students interviewed a local Lyndonville Institute agriculture teacher, observing his students’ projects related to gardening and maple syrup production, and learned more about opportunities in the agriculture industry through guest speakers from Case New Holland Tractors.
State FFA Officers commented on the high quality of their National FFA facilitators, the idyllic setting of NVU, with its excellent food and amenities, and the overall effectiveness of the training program and learning environment. They left the training with increased confidence and excitement to serve FFA members in the coming year, along with strong personal connections to their New England peers, whom they will next see at events in Massachusetts, Washington, DC and Indianapolis.
Those wishing to learn more about Maine FFA, including the possibility of connecting with an existing FFA chapter or beginning a new one, should contact State FFA Advisor Doug Robertson: firstname.lastname@example.org, (207) 624-6744.