Food Insecurity: Everyone’s Issue

More than 2,100 FFA members throughout the country converged for a week during the summer months of June and July in Washington, DC to analyze their personal skills and interests, develop leadership skills, and create a meaningful community-service plan that promises to make a difference in their home communities. Career and Technical Education (CTE) students who are members of FFA, through a hands-on service partnership with Meals of Hope, packed over 420,000 highly palatable meals this summer. Learning about civic engagement, FFA student members packaged meals that were delivered to various areas in and around Washington, D.C. that are food insecure.

FFA student members package meals to send to the food insecure.

FFA student members package meals to send to the food insecure.

FFA members attending the Washington Leadership Conference (WLC) analyze the needs of their local communities, develop a wide-ranging and high-impact community-service initiative, and implement their plan with the help of their FFA chapter upon returning home.

“FFA members attending the WLC develop a personal mission, learn the value of people and the importance of living to serve,” said National FFA Advisor and Board Chair Dr. Steve A. Brown.  “They develop their knowledge and the confidence to help others in their local schools, communities and the nation.”

Agricultural education teachers attend the Washington Leadership Conference as well, learning how to motivate and help develop their students’ personal growth and leadership potential. The teachers also learn how they can maximize their local FFA chapters’ community-service initiatives throughout the year. Upon returning to their local communities, students in recent years have created food and clothing drives, volunteer campaigns, educational outreach initiatives, and more.

The Washington Leadership Conference was created in 1969 and is held annually in Washington, D.C. The 2015 National FFA Organization’s Washington Leadership Conference is sponsored through the National FFA Foundation by title sponsors Monsanto and CSX and by weekly sponsors TransCanada, Crop Production Services, Farm Credit and BNSF.

To learn more about FFA’s Learning-to-Serve program click here.

About the National FFA Organization

The National FFA is a Career and Technical Education Student Organization (CTSO) of 610,240 student members as part of 7,665 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is 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. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more information, visit the National FFA Organization online at, on Facebook, Twitter and the official National FFA Organization blog.

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Dr. Steve A. Brown is an Educational Program Specialist at ED with a background in Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Sciences (AFNRS). Brown serves as the National Adviser of the National FFA Organization and Board Chair of the National FFA Board of Directors.

National FFA Awards $2.7 Million to Students

In 1984, sixteen FFA members received the first awards given through the newly established collegiate scholarship program. In the 31 years since then, National FFA has given more than $41 million in scholarships.  These scholarships are provided by businesses and individuals through the National FFA Foundation to reward and encourage excellence and enable students to pursue their educational goals.

This year, National FFA awarded more than $2.7 million in scholarships to 2,158 students. Over 80% of these students are attending four-year universities in the fall, and 63% of the scholarship winners are female. The winners included 313 high school valedictorians.

The infographic below provides an overview of the 2015 scholarship recipients. You can also download a PDF of the graphic here.

FFA Infographic

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Olivia Wood is a summer intern for the College and Career Transitions branch of the Division of Academic and Technical Education in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.

CTE Student celebrated at White House Science Fair

Photo of Eric Koehlmoos standing with his research exhibit

Eric Koehlmoos appears with his Grass to Gas research at the 2015 White House Science Fair

Eric Koehlmoos, a Career and Technical Education student and member of the National FFA Organization was recognized at the 2015 White House Science Fair that was held on March 26 for his “Grass to Gas” project. Eric, 18, is a member of the South O’Brien FFA Chapter in Paulina, Iowa. He was invited to participate in the Fair that celebrates the accomplishments of student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions throughout the United States.

More than 100 of the nation’s brightest young minds were welcomed to the fifth White House Science fair. In the past, innovative inventions, discoveries and science projects have been showcased.

Koehlmoos won first place in the Power, Structural and Technical Systems category at the 2014 National FFA Agriscience Fair, a special project of the National FFA Foundation that was sponsored by Cargill, Bayer CropScience, John Deere, PotashCorp and Syngenta. The fair was held during the National FFA Convention & Expo and featured the research and results of FFA members who plan on pursuing careers in the science and technology of agriculture. This accomplishment earned him the special White House invitation.

Koehlmoos’ project, “Grass to Gas,” consisted of three years of research with prairie cordgrass and switch grass and their potential impact in the cellulosic ethanol industry.
“Because I come from a farm background I was very interested in the biofuel industry and the new cellulosic ethanol plants being built near my house,” Koehlmoos said.

Photo of Eric Koehlmoos standing with the White House in the background

Eric Koehlmoos stands in front of the White House during his visit to Washington, D.C.

During his three years of research, Koehlmoos found that both grasses produce nearly 200 more gallons of ethanol per acre than corn and wheat straw, two mainstream methods for ethanol production. He also discovered that when both grasses are pretreated with calcium hydroxide, ethanol yields are increased by as much as 80 percent and produces a byproduct that has higher protein values than corn distiller grains.

Koehlmoos plans to continue his research in college and would ultimately like to use these grasses to commercially produce ethanol in the Southern Plains, which would provide a sustainable solution to importing foreign oil while also not competing with the food supply.

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Education Program Specialist, OCTAE

Smithsonian Welcomes FFA Jackets

Photo of five FFA jackets

Five FFA jackets were dedicated at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

During a special presentation on July 25, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History welcomed the jackets of five former FFA members to its collection. The familiar blue and gold jackets will be featured at the American Enterprise exhibit, opening July 2015. The exhibit will tell the nation’s business story, centered on the themes of opportunity, innovation, competition and the search for common good in the American marketplace.

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