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09 October 2016 - My Battery Will Soon be Recharged

I am truly excited to be just days away from my ‘battery charging’ week of the year, the National FFA Convention; especially so since I wasn’t able to participate last year. I was just one month out of open heart surgery at convention time and my doctor said ‘no strenuous travel, no strenuous work.’ So for the fourth time since 1958, I missed the National FFA Convention. I will be back this year and I’m really looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the future leaders of the agricultural community as well as the future leaders of America and the world, the members of FFA.

Like everything else in our lives, the FFA has changed over the years. For decades FFA stood for the Future Farmers of America. But now, realizing there are 300 agricultural career opportunities beyond farming and ranching, it is simply the National FFA Organization. For decades we had one ‘Star’, the Star Farmer of America. Now we have three more ‘Stars’, the ‘Star of Agri-Science’, the ‘Star of Agri-Business’ and the ‘Star of Agricultural Placement’. There are four regional winners in each category, making a total of 16 students vying for the four top Star awards.

I recently recorded the stories of the 16 Star candidates for presentation at the convention and I was blown away by what they have already accomplished in life. As a freshman, signing for a loan to buy equipment for a start-up lawn care business; signing for a loan from Mom & Dad to buy heifers and become partners with them in the dairy farm are just two examples of the 16. But they are not alone,nearly every member coming to Indianapolis for the FFA Convention, has an exceptional story to tell, and have already laid the road map to choose and pursue their career.

I look back at my freshman year in FFA in Wisconsin and my net worth was an $18.00 used bicycle and half ownership with my Dad in a Guernsey heifer. Fortunately for me, FFA offered programs in leadership development and public speaking. That lead to my career in broadcasting that has continued for 65 years and is still going.

While farm numbers have declined, membership in FFA grows each year, reaching a record high of 649,355 students, up 3% from last year, and FFA Chapter numbers increased by 110 to 7,859. This is why so many adults attend, corporate executives from all segments of the economy who support the FFA program, and use it to recruit new young talent to become leaders and employees in their companies. It starts October 19th in Indianapolis and I will share it all with you as I anchor gavel-to gavel coverage on RFD-TV. I know my battery will be recharged and I think yours will be, too.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.