There is a long list of people, experiences, and organizations that I hold responsible for instilling in me a passion for production agriculture. To put it mildly, Future Farmers of America (FFA) is at the top of that list. Last week (February 17-24) was the celebration of National FFA Week. This is a time to remember the past, celebrate accomplishments, and create the future through community involvement and service projects. Students all over the United States commemorated the week with dress-up days, kiss-a-critter contests, faculty breakfasts, and commuting to school in tractors. Though I have grown out of sporting bibs and a straw hat throughout the halls of my old high school during this weeklong event, one thing is for certain–the knowledge and life skills that I obtained through my involvement with this organization will stick with me forever.
The Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program (YCLP) consists of a series of educational sessions designed to develop leadership qualities in young cattle farmers. The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) provides action-packed agendas for each session that touch on key topics involving the beef cattle industry. February’s meeting kicked off at Chad Wilkerson’s Farm, where we toured their facility discussing the advantages and disadvantages of calving under roof. Wednesday’s agenda focused on legislation and public policy at Iowa’s capital building. YCLP students were given the opportunity to meet with their legislators to lobby about topics concerning the beef industry; Iowa’s Foreign Animal Disease Preparedness and Response plan, funding for the building and renovation of the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, and opportunities to help young cattle producers. Meetings with Governor Kim Reynolds, Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Iowa Ag Development Authority rounded up a very successful and insightful day at the capital.
The importance of getting involved in organizations and connected with resources that help you grow personally and professionally is extremely valuable–especially at a young age. One of the many resources CAST provides is a weekly digital newsletter, Friday Notes, which includes information about science-based agricultural information and career opportunities–as well as links to various types of online articles. An exciting aspect of this newsletter is that it is FREE to all currently enrolled full-time students. Check here to see how CAST’s youngest member decided to take full advantage. Colleen Hamilton, CAST’s Membership/Administrative Specialist, is passionate about promoting agricultural opportunities among youth: “We’re pleased to see an increasing number of college students taking advantage of our free student membership–allowing them access to CAST ag resources for their class work and research projects. Of course, it is our hope that they’ll continue to stay with us as a young professional when they start their careers.”
By: Kylie Peterson
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