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Guest Opinions

2015 – A Year of Synergy for Wyoming FFA

Written by Jennifer Womack

The dictionary on my desk offers the following definition for the word “synergy.”

synergy |ˈsinərjē| (also synergism |-ˌjizəm| ) noun – the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects: the synergy between artist and record company.

If I had to pick a word to describe the 2015 calendar year for Wyoming FFA, I would choose synergy. While synergy within Wyoming FFA is not a new thing, in my estimation it’s pushing toward an all-time high where individuals, communities, businesses, FFA members and more see the program’s value and are investing themselves in its success. It’s a phenomenon happening within the program itself and among those who support FFA’s core mission.

At the Wyoming FFA Association, membership numbers have surpassed 2,500. Chapter numbers, with the recent addition of a chapter in Green River, have also reached a new level, with over 50 Wyoming schools offering the FFA program to their students. From the rumblings we hear across the Cowboy State, we believe we will see even more new chapters chartered in the not-too-distant future.

The FFA Association, thanks to the leadership of Wyoming State FFA Advisor Stacy Broda and agricultural education teachers across Wyoming, is also making a greater impact on the students it serves. Members of the FFA have the opportunity to participate in a variety of 16 Career Development Events. From Livestock Evaluation to Ag Sales and Marketing and Agronomy to Veterinary Science, students involved in these events can sample agricultural career paths while they’re still in the high school. Along the way, whether they’re delivering a speech or a set of reasons in livestock judging, they’re developing marketable job skills. New in 2016, Wyoming FFA members will be able to compete in a job interview contest. As a parent, that’s the type of skills development that earns my attention.

Wyoming FFA members are also pursuing science at a greater depth than ever before. Nearly 75 Wyoming FFA members entered projects in the state’s annual Agriscience Fair. Speaking to the quality of those projects, just over 20 were selected by the National FFA Organization to compete at the national level where additional Wyoming success stories developed. Some of the state’s agricultural education classrooms are bolstering their teaching in the science field, providing students a chance to learn about science and apply it in a career-based, real-world setting.

While the Wyoming FFA Foundation has a paragraph long mission, I tend to sum it up that we are here to maximize the opportunities available to Wyoming FFA members. We encourage success, fund awards, invest in learning tools, aid in travel, purchase FFA jackets for kids who can’t afford them and invest where we’re able to help ensure our members go on to be role model members of society.

Here’s a few examples of how we fulfilled this mission in 2015:

• Hosted a tour for FFA members to visit a farm, a grain elevator and an implement dealership with a goal of helping FFA members understand the various aspect of Wyoming agriculture;

• Helped fund travel for the 2015-16 Wyoming FFA Officer team to ensure they can meet with FFA members, serving as positive role models to their peers;

• Awarded $36,000 in college scholarships to help outstanding FFA members achieve their college goals;

• Purchased FFA jackets, and in some cases helped with dues, for 47 Wyoming FFA members. It’s the Foundation’s goal to ensure that every Wyoming FFA member has access to a jacket embroidered with his or her own name.

• Invested over $10,000 in learning tools for Wyoming’s agricultural education classrooms. This included fencing materials for a new school farm developing in Evanston, science equipment for a school in the Big Horn Basin and a system students are building in their classroom to convert vegetable oil into diesel fuel.

• Invested over $5,000 through the Cameco Cowboy State Challenge encouraging chapters to carry out community service projects. This investment included a project organized by the Cheyenne High Plains FFA to provide 50,000 meals to homeless shelters, senior citizen centers and other entities that serve individuals in need of a good meal.

The Foundation was able to accomplish the above because individuals and companies see value in the program and are willing to invest in our mission. To them we’re forever grateful. They’re part of the synergy that’s taking Wyoming FFA to all new heights.

While 2015 was a great year, our plans are even bigger for 2016. As membership and opportunity expand, so, too, do the goals of the Wyoming FFA Foundation and our passion to better serve more members.

Enclosed in this edition of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a donation envelope. Regardless of the amount, we hope you’ll join in the synergy and make a contribution to Wyoming FFA. Each and every day our members give us a reason to celebrate what’s right with American youth. I can’t personally think of a better investment.

Visit the Wyoming FFA Foundation online at wyoffafoundation.org for more information on its programs and activities.