It's an old organization with a new way of thinking. When the FFA was formed in 1928, much of the country's economics was centered around agriculture. But that's not the case today, so FFA has had to reinvent itself to meet the needs of today's youth.
However, stereotypes can be difficult to dispel. "I guess just like everyone's general perception of FFA you picture cows and ranching, but it's so much more," said Madisonville FFA member T.K. Manning. "You have your public speaking, you go to your event, there's just everything. It's just not what I expected. It's much more than that."
That sentiment is echoed by a former Madisonville FFA member who now attends Texas A&M. Two years ago Victoria Taylor was on an Ag Issues team that took home a national championship title. Yet when she joined FFA, she had no idea what she was getting into. "I just thought it was all about cows and pigs and chickens," Taylor said. "Getting into it and getting into a lot of the competitions I realized it teaches a lot of values that you can carry on in your life."
It's those kind of revelations that bring a smile to the face of Madisonville FFA Iinstructor Lynita Foster. "I love ag teaching particularly because you get to see the students not only in the classroom, we go everywhere, a lot of different competitions, stock shows," said Foster. "We spend a lot of time with them and definitely see the students develop and grow."
And contrary to what many believe, today's FFA is made up of young people from all walks of life. Some come from farming and ranching, many don't. While agriculture continues to be the foundation of the program, FFA has changed with the times. "Our nation has evolved and not everybody just goes home and works on a farm and FFA has embraced that and expanded their curriculum," Foster said.
While many of FFA students are leaders both in and outside of school, they are quick to credit FFA for developing their sense of responsibility, perseverance and teamwork. "You can't believe the ways that I've grown personally through this organization," said Madisonville FFA member Colton Morgan. Manning added, "Just the memories I make with my friends when we do things and with the teachers, they just make it so much fun and just being around and doing everything in FFA is just great."
When these students leave Madisonville High School, they'll be able to take those memories and skills to their next step in life. And today's FFA will continue to mold and shape young men and women until the cows come home.