Congrats to Tyler Grandil, Bruce Watkins, and Julie Shumate for another great experience for students!

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Over 1,000 students and friends of Arizona FFA attend its 85th annual conference!

Blue corduroy jackets may not normally be your first choice of apparel for Tucson in the middle of the summer.  However, nearly 1,000 high school students showed up proudly sporting their official blue jackets at the University of Arizona this past weekend.  The reason—The Arizona FFA State Leadership Conference.  This annual conference celebrates a year of hard work for members of the National FFA Organization, an organization formerly referred to as “Future Farmers of America.”  The FFA is among the nation’s largest youth organizations, containing over 551,000 members nationwide and over 9,438 members here in Arizona.  Although rooted in farming, the FFA has evolved over time in sync with the changing agriculture industry and the opportunities available to FFA members aim to develop leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

At the recent State FFA Leadership Conference this past weekend FFA members from across the state had the opportunity to compete in FFA contests (known as “Career Development Events”) as individuals or on teams.  In the prepared public speaking event, students created and presented six to eight minute speeches on agriculturally-related topics from water rights to immigration and were then questioned by the judges on their individual topics.  In the extemporaneous public speaking contest, participants were allowed to bring resources along with them to the contest and then drew a random agricultural topic that they then had thirty minutes in which to prepare a speech and later presented to a panel of judges.  Another individual contest available to FFA members was the State Agriscience fair, where students presented science projects related to subjects from zoology to environmental science.  Besides competing as individuals, students participated in team events such as parliamentary procedure, a contest where FFA members demonstrated their ability to effectively run a meeting using the same rules and proceedings that our national government has been using for centuries.

In addition to contests, conference attendees had the opportunity to participate in other aspects of the State Leadership Conference.  FFA members attended workshops and conference social events where they met students from across the state of Arizona.  Additionally, members attended sessions where the Arizona FFA recognized supporters from the community, awarded scholarships to college-bound students and recognized student award recipients from FFA events throughout the year.  These sessions also included remarks from acclaimed motivational speakers, a visiting National FFA Officer and ten retiring Arizona State FFA Officers who have spent the past year as both college students and representatives of the Arizona FFA by attending events in the agriculture industry, visiting FFA programs across the state and planning and attending FFA conferences and events.  Some select students served as delegates to the conference representing their high school FFA chapters.  These students were responsible for creating and voting on any desired changes to the Arizona FFA constitution and bylaws as well as playing a role in the election of a new set of Arizona FFA State Officers.

The FFA may have begun in a small farming town in Virginia, but the organization is still alive and kicking over eighty years since its modest beginnings.  Here in Arizona, the FFA is in high schools such as Pinon and Yuma and everywhere in between.  The recent State FFA Leadership Conference brought to light once again the quality of the FFA organization and the positive impact that it has in the lives of students.

FFA is a national youth organization of 551,666 student members preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture with 7,489 local chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.  Arizona boasts 9,438 members in 74 high schools all across the state.  FFA strives to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.  For more information about Arizona FFA, visit