FFA empowering tomorrow’s leaders
Editor’s note: This is the latest post in our “You Grow, Girl!” series highlighting female farmers – from the northern reaches of Canada to the heartland of the U.S. From the western coast of Africa to the rolling hills of France and beyond. The series amplifies the voices of female farmers, who play vital roles in agriculture worldwide. Here, they share their unique perspectives on food, family and farming.
When Leslie Turner was growing up on a cattle farm in Kansas, getting up at 5:30 a.m. to do her chores, she turned to one of the largest youth leadership organizations in the world to give her a valuable experience that would help shape her life and career.
Turner was a state and national officer for Future Farmers of America (FFA).
Today, she’s a senior consumer insights associate on our Convenience Store Snacks business. And there are likely many more like her, within General Mills, who have a connection to the National FFA Organization.
At a time when high school and college students are making headlines for making a difference in their communities – like Katie Stagliano, grand prize winner of the General Mills Feeding Better Futures Scholars Program, and Kate Indreland, another finalist in that program (who was involved in FFA) – being a part of FFA is as relevant as ever.
Now with more than 653,000 members in more than 8,500 chapters in the U.S. – and nearly 350,000 alumni like Turner – the FFA’s mission “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” remains strong.
Two members of the 2017-18 National FFA Officer Team recently visited our headquarters to meet with leaders at General Mills as part of their industry outreach efforts.
Breanna Holbert, of California, is currently serving as National FFA President. She’s majoring in agricultural science and education at California State University, in Chico, California.
Gracie Furnish, of Kentucky, is the National FFA Eastern Region Vice President. She’s majoring in agricultural education at the University of Kentucky.
“Our generation is very passionate and very dedicated. And we want to make a difference,” Holbert told Turner, who interviewed her in the latest “A Taste of General Mills” podcast. “It’s about making sure that we take that and actually do something with it.”
“I think that’s a lot where leadership happens, stepping outside of your comfort zone, stepping out of what you traditionally believe or the limits you set for yourself. And, how can you step up, grow yourself and be a leader and help other people to grow as well,” said Furnish.
But FFA is not just about farming.
Like Turner, today’s FFA members also aspire to work in a variety of industries, and as entrepreneurs.
“We want students to go into agriculture, food and natural resources careers, but if they don’t, they’re still educated consumers and strong leaders for whatever they’re going to do,” said Holbert.
Listen (31 min)
SHOW NOTES – Episode 36: July 18, 2018
Link: Breanna Holbert, National FFA President
Link: Gracie Furnish, National FFA Eastern Region Vice President
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Please read our other You Grow, Girl! blog posts and learn more about General Mills and our commitment to sustainable sourcing and supporting smallholder farmers in our 2018 Global Responsibility Report.
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