Harrisburg – Governor Tom Wolf, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, and Education Secretary Pedro Rivera joined more than 5,000 FFA members and guests Monday at the 101st Pennsylvania Farm Show for the state FFA’s Mid-Winter Convention, where the focus was on training the next generation of leaders in not only agriculture, but also in many other industries.
“When FFA started in 1928, its founders were very wise, because they recognized that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting. It's a science. It's a business. And it's an art,” Governor Wolf said. “Agriculture also is Pennsylvania’s largest enterprise, so the commonwealth has a vested interest in encouraging our brightest and best young people to consider careers in this broad-based field.”
A minimum of 75,000 new and replacement jobs are anticipated in the agriculture and food industry within the next decade throughout the commonwealth with occupations ranging from traditional roles such as farmers, veterinarians, dairy herdsman, and agriculture equipment service technicians to non-traditional roles such as packaging machine operators, forklift drivers, industrial machinery technicians, and truck drivers.
Pennsylvania’s more than 150 high school agriculture education programs continue to prepare students for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers and beyond. The Economics and Statistics Administration – part of the U.S. Department of Commerce – reports that STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17 percent from 2008 to 2018.
“The Department of Education is dedicated to preparing students for multiple career pathways, providing them with access to national academic standards and career development events related to agriculture and STEM,” Secretary Rivera said. “FFA serves as a partner, a resource, and a guiding light for students interested in pursuing a career in agriculture, a mission that will benefit both students and communities in the commonwealth for years to come.”
The Pennsylvania FFA Association makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. From its humble beginnings, FFA membership has reached more than 650,000 members nationwide.
“As an FFA alumnus, I have come to understand the power of the blue corduroy jacket. But its impact is truly revealed after taking it off and taking that next step – taking advantage of the opportunities that are around you and embarking upon your future,” said Secretary Redding. “As I often say, it is an exciting time to be in agriculture--full of opportunities and challenges. One of those challenges is ensuring we have the next generation of leaders who are able to step up and lead our industry, and our commonwealth, into a future that will be defined by rapid change.”
The Mid-Winter Convention recognized the academic, leadership and field-based experiences of 357 Keystone Degree recipients, the highest honor earned at the state level. In addition, the Pennsylvania FFA Alumni Association awarded 467 first-year members their own official FFA jacket after completing a competitive application process.
The National FFA Association, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America, boasts more than 650,000 members in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Pennsylvania is home to nearly 13,000 members.
For more information about the Pennsylvania FFA Association visit, http://www.paffa.org/.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the nation’s largest indoor agricultural event, featuring 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits, and 300 commercial exhibitors. The show runs January 7-13 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and January 14 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and parking is $15 in Farm Show lots. The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center is easily accessible from nearby Interstate 81.
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