FFA WEEK: FFA members hype the opportunities

Published 6:11 pm Friday, February 17, 2023

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In many ways, being a part of Future Farmers of America (FFA) is about participation and serving the community.

Austin High School freshman Ele Struck and Nathan Martinson are living examples of that.

Both farm kids, Struck and Martinson excel at being involved and doing what they can to prepare for the future.

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“Really, just making friends and meeting new people, going to competitions, having a good time with everyone and helping in the community,” Martinson said.

Martinson is a part of Austin FFA’s ag mechanics team while Struck shows goats on her own time and is a part of the Austin livestock judging team.

Both said that being involved in these activities has a direct relationship to their future endeavors. For Martinson, that means to continue working on a farm and hopefully owning a farm some day.

Struck, meanwhile, is hoping to become a pediatric nurse, but still find life on the farm.

“I would like to live on the farm, but keep up with the goats,” Struck said. “Maybe get a few different animals and stay where I’m at. Having the farm aspect of it because I’ve learned so much from them and if I have kids I can pass on what I’ve learned.”

In essence, Struck and Martinson have and continue to learn life skills. Through his time on the farm mechanics team, Martinson has not only learned the skills to compete, but to apply and deal with challenges on the farm as they directly apply.

More directly to their FFA time, they are developing knowledge of animals — Struck with her goats and Martinson with the dairy cattle he also shows.

This knowledge of animals will play a part in the years to come.

And to that point comes perhaps one of the most important skills taken from FFA — leadership — because that skill alone can translate to so many different areas.

“(It leads to) possibly a higher leadership job or manager job because I’ve had so much leadership  at a young age that then you go on to use it in your real life,” Struck said. “You’ve got all the leadership aspects you’ve learned rather than learning them at an older age.”

There’s no arguing that FFA has a strong focus on agriculture, but both are quick to point out that there is a place for everybody in FFA.

There are different areas that don’t necessarily fit directly to agriculture, yet still enjoy a relationship with the broader aspects of the agriculture community.

The end advice is to simply explore your options.

“We’ve all had some sort of farm aspect … but you don’t need it,” Struck said. “There are so many chances to grow and learn your leadership (skills). There are so many offshoots and opportunities.”

At the end of the day Struck and Martinson advise students to give FFA a try, for all of its benefits.

“Do it. Try it out,” Martinson urged. “If you like it, stay in. If it’s not for you, you can always leave and opt out, but I would definitely try it. Give it a shot and participate. Take the opportunities you have.”