Gov. Mike Parson and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe welcomed hundreds of Missouri students to Jefferson City Thursday to commemorate National FFA Week. Parson, Kehoe, and FFA members drove restored tractors to the state Capitol in a show of support for Missouri agriculture.

The events culminated a week dedicated to honor the role students play in the future of Missouri’s agriculture industry. Gov. Parson praised the show of support by FFA students across Missouri traveling to Jefferson City. He said that “the industry and state we love is in great hands.”

Sean O’Brien is the FFA advisor for Silex High School in northeast Missouri’s Lincoln County.

“FFA week is a great week to celebrate during George Washington’s birthday,” he said. “We have a lot of different events happening. (It’s really about) getting the awareness out about the FFA organization, the amazing leadership opportunities that are available for students whose roots are within the agricultural industry.”

The Show-Me State is home to 362 chapters and more than 26,000 members, ranking eighth nationally for membership.

“FFA week to me is a great opportunity to make a lot of memories,” said Claire Kinion, who got to see Gov. Parson drive a tractor to the Missouri Capitol. “There’s a bunch of ways that you can be in your blue jacket and express your love for FFA and it’s just a really great organization to make new memories and have a lot of opportunities for your future.”

Karlie Ellis is a local member of the Sylex FFA chapter in northeast Missouri who wants a future career in agriculture.

“But outside of just my career, agriculture affects everybody, even the people who aren’t directly in the industry,” she said. “So, I think FFA week is a great opportunity to kind of embrace our roots and also show the world how important agriculture is and just what it does to serve the population.”

Missouri FFA is helping the next generation rise to meet the challenges of feeding a growing population. Silex FFA’s Braden Havelik said that everyone benefits from farming.

“If you have food on your table, you’re seeing the impact of farming,” he said. “If you have clothes on your body, farming’s affecting you. It’s really important that we’re out here telling our story to everyone here at the Capitol today to help everyone understand how important it truly is so everyone knows, you know, why we’re here and why we’re so passionate about what we do.”

James Cockrell told Missourinet that there’s more to FFA than just farming.

“Outside of the farming area, I’d like to get into the horticulture more floricultural aspect,” Cockrell said. “Maybe work at a green house. I’d like to get involved in a few opportunities right out of high school to strengthen my knowledge on that. FFA has allowed me to broaden my knowledge on those opportunities and what I can get involved in.”

Kylie Nolan’s family grows pumpkins and gourds, and if they tried hard enough, they could grow giant ones.

“We tried to plant it this previous year, but they didn’t turn out as well because we ran into some issues, but in the previous years, we got pumpkins that have been so big to where I can’t even pick them up,” she said. “But I wouldn’t say they’re probably any of the biggest, because we haven’t necessarily tried to get the biggest, but I think if we actually worked towards it, we could definitely probably accomplish getting a really big pumpkin.”

Haley Gruenewald didn’t get her farming career started until she got to high school.

“It’s been a great experience for me,” she said. “I’ve had the opportunity to, I bought sheep one year and ever since then I have had the opportunity to show in the fairs and learn what it’s like to live on a farm and take care of animals and the responsibilities to go along with that.”

Parson has proclaimed February 17th through the 24th as National FFA Week in Missouri. It’s a week dedicated to honor one of the state’s leading industries – agriculture.

“I think FFA is important because people need to learn how to advocate and speak up for what they’re doing and why they’re doing it and to help people that aren’t grown up in agriculture understand it.” said Aiden Choate, a student with Nixa FFA.

Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn is proud to see the great show of support, saying that Missouri FFA members will advance the future of agriculture.

“I think it’s really important to be here because, you know, you get to meet a lot of great people and it’s important to hear where these legislators and leaders come from,” said Weston Heppner, a Nixa FFA student who lives on a hog farm in southwest Missouri. “Since I’m getting up there in the voting age to know what they’re talking about and to understand where they’re coming up so I can make an educated decision myself.”

The National Future Farmers of America Organization was founded in 1928 by 33 young men in Kansas City.

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