When walking through the halls of the Agriculture Building on the University of Missouri campus, you will find a variety of students all from different backgrounds, hometowns, and cultures. Despite the many differences, though, most of these students share one common trait. That is, a burning passion for agriculture, often kindled by a common experience — participation in 4-H clubs and FFA chapters.
“I became a member in my local 4-H club when I was around grade school age and then in high school I joined my school’s FFA chapter,” said Hattie Kiamann, an agricultural education and leadership major. “I learned so much in both of these organizations, not just about agriculture, but real life lessons as well. I want to be able to share that experience and those lessons with the next generations as an ag teacher in the future.
According to the national 4-H website, 4-H is a nonprofit organization that “grows confident, capable, and caring kids with the life skills to thrive in today’s world and succeed in their boldest dreams for tomorrow.” Nationally, 4-H has more than 6 million members, In Missouri, 104,157 youths between the ages of 5 and 18 are involved in 4-H.
“Through 4-H I learned public speaking, communication, and improved my people skills,” said Mathew Schroer an agricultural systems management major. “I still was strongly involved in the agricultural side of the organization. I even showed swine in the county fair through 4-H. It was those non-agriculture related skills I learned, though, that I am able to still use and develop today as a college student.”
In addition to 4-H, both Kiamann and Schorer were involved in FFA. Both students also severed as officers in their 4-H clubs and FFA chapters.
“As a high school student, FFA continued teaching me useful skills like communication, strong work ethic, and how to build a resume,” Schroer said. “It was really easy to take what I learned and apply it to my college life just like I did with the skills I learned from 4-H.”
According to the national FFA organization website, FFA “makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.” There are currently 610,240 FFA members across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Missouri FFA organization reports having 25,762 active FFA members from various chapters all over the state.
“Many of my best memories from high school somehow involve FFA, whether I was hanging out with other members or attending an event held by the chapter,” Kiamann said. “In my FFA experience I learned to work hard, be humble, and lots of professional skills that an employer would look for in an employee.”
Not only are College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (CAFNR) students benefiting from their 4-H and FFA experiences, but students in different schools and degree programs are as well.
“I learned a lot from my FFA chapter,” said Madison Flynn a pre-health professions major. “I learned to be determined, which has already helped me in my classes here at Mizzou. Even though I’m not an ag major, FFA still helped me and I have carried what I learned from it with me into my adult life.”
Students at Mizzou can continue their involvement with these organizations as college students; both organizations have collegiate student clubs. For information, visit the Mizzou Collegiate 4-H website or the Mizzou FFA Alumni Facebook page.