By Josie Chance
The state capital was flush with blue corduroy jackets as the cream of the crop met in Montgomery June 7-10 for the 94th annual Alabama FFA Convention.
Excitement filled the air as students milled around booths at the career and trade show; visited with friends from across the state; and competed in contests to develop career skills, such as public speaking, writing, agricultural knowledge, parliamentary procedure, meat evaluation, engineering and education.
Alabama agriculture organizations, including the Alabama Farmers Federation, play a role in the state convention. This year, Federation representatives visited with students over a game of cornhole next to the organization’s popular photo booth inside the trade show. Federation Young Farmers Division Director Hunter McBrayer, who interacted with students, said leaders in this group are the future.
“We are excited to meet with FFA members from all over Alabama and discuss their current and future impact on the agriculture industry,” McBrayer said. “FFA produces strong leaders, and we are blessed to support them.”
Individuals who advocate for agriscience education were inducted into the Alabama FFA Foundation Wall Of Honor. Inductees were Andy Chamness, former state FFA adviser; Greg Childree, ag teacher from Dale County; Joey Haymon, assistant career tech director in DeKalb County; Dr. Cynthia McCarty, State Board of Education representative for District 6; and Dr. Joe Morton, former state superintendent of education.
FFA also recognized influential leaders for their service to the state organization with honorary FFA degrees. Honorees included state Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, who helped secure funds to offset cost of Alabama FFA membership for all agriscience students. Ledbetter serves on the House Ways and Means Education Committee. Other honorees included Federation Producer Matt Wilson and Agricultural Legislation Director Preston Roberts.
The Federation works with legislators such as Ledbetter to fund career tech education. Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan said these partnerships are crucial to help develop agriculture in Alabama.
“Today’s youth are the future of our state and country,” Pinyan said. “The Federation believes in providing educators with the tools needed to teach these students so they can, in turn, choose careers that fit their personalities and benefit the industry. It’s a pleasure for our staff, members and partners to invest in programs like FFA.”