Ag News

Georgia FFA celebrates 90th year in style

A speech from a presidential cabinet member, a bill signing that could prompt the organization’s future growth and a concert by a platinum recording artist highlighted the 90th Annual Georgia FFA Convention, held April 26-28 at the Macon Centreplex.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue gave the keynote address for the opening general session on April 26, delivering a message of persistence. Perdue shared the story of author J.K. Rowling, who received numerous rejections of her work before reaching worldwide fame with her Harry Potter Series.

“It’s easy to get frustrated,” Perdue said. “It’s possible to rise above that frustration and succeed.”

Perdue also gave an object lesson with a jar of beans and a walnut. The walnut rests on top of the beans until the jar is shaken, when it moves downward within the beans. With constant movement, Perdue moved the walnut back to the top.

“Things happen, and your world gets turned upside-down, and you just get smothered there, as if everything is piling in on top of you and you don’t know what to do,” Perdue said. “What happens? You know, you just keep on going. The walnut came to the top because it’s bigger on the inside than anything else in the jar. When things don’t go your way, the natural reaction goes like this for most people: blame, pity party, resentment, jealousy, bitterness. It takes everything out of you and you start to shrink inside. But as a human being, you have the power to choose to think differently. When you choose to think differently, you’re going to grow from the inside out, and that growth doesn’t depend on your circumstances.”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal appeared during an April 27 general session, signing into law Senate Bill 330, which passed unanimously in both chambers of the Georgia legislature and expands the FFA education model. See the next story for more details.

Recording artist Frankie Ballard brought his country stylings to approximately 800 FFA members in an April 27 concert sponsored by Georgia Farm Bureau.

GFB also provided sponsorship for “Living to Serve” t-shirts worn by more than 800 students who worked on service projects in Macon and provided support for the FFA Discussion Meet Career Development Event (CDE), which was won by Emily Leonard of Echols County. Other final four participants were Dakota Daniel of Cairo, Ty Kim of Hart County and Mary Logan Tostenson of Colquitt County.

All of this took place in addition to the organization’s competition in numerous other CDEs and workshops.

Before any of the formal events, more students from around the state worked on the service projects including weeding and planting the raised-bed gardens at the Rescue Mission of Middle Georgia, repainting a dozen local homes and performing landscaping work at local parks.

“It shows the men, women and children who live here that they have community support and that they have worth,” said Rescue Mission Development Coordinator Amy Walker. “It means so much when people come and do volunteer work. We can’t do it without them.

Students from Henry County schools Ola, Hampton and Locust Grove worked on the gardens at the Rescue Mission, which provides housing, training and various forms of service to more than 50 men, women and children. The students weeded the gardens and planted vegetables to provide produce for the Rescue Mission residents.

“I really think it’s great helping the community because you’re becoming a part of it,” said Locust Grove FFA member Kevin Poole. “You’re not just standing aside, you’re being active. You’re helping yourself by helping other people.”

During the opening session, Georgia FFA announced its state membership has topped 42,000 for the first time, marking the 19th straight year of membership growth.

To view photos from the FFA Convention visit