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National FFA CEO inspires potential young leaders

Agriculture is alive and well within the younger generation, according to Mark Poeschl.

October 3, 2019

2 Min Read
Mark Poeschl
FIRED UP FOR FFA: If you aren’t a believer in FFA and the future of agriculture before you hear Mark Poeschl talk, you will be by the time he leaves the podium. He spoke recently in Indiana, at the Blue Jacket Bash, which raises funds for Columbia City FFA.

Mark Poeschl was part of the largest graduating class in the history of his high school in Mead, Neb. He was one of 38 students and learned about agriculture and FFA from an ag teacher who taught in the same school for 57 years. He went on to serve in important roles in several ag companies, most recently Cargill, before returning to FFA as CEO of the National FFA Organization in 2016.

All that’s to say that you can come from humble beginnings, face challenges and still carve out a bright future in agriculture. What you do today, this year, in almost uncharted, challenging times could just be what inspires your neighbors to carry on.

“I was honored to come back and be a part of FFA,” Poeschl told an audience of some 300 adults and FFA members in Columbia City, Ind., recently. He was the keynote speaker for the third annual Blue Jacket Bash, where community sponsors, individual families and FFA members join together to enjoy good food and fellowship, and to raise funds for the upcoming year for the Columbia City FFA. More than 45 local company and private donors contributed to the effort, besides individual donors who made pledges during the event.

On the move

“FFA is on the move around the country,” Poeschl said excitedly. “We’ve surpassed 1 million students in ag education programs across the country, and we’ve crossed the 700,000 mark in FFA membership. That’s a record. But I’m not going to be satisfied until every student in ag education has the opportunity to experience what the kids in blue jackets experience.”

Poeschl’s intent is to reach that goal by 2028. After seeing the fire in his eyes and hearing the passion in his voice, I wouldn’t bet against it.

“Our goal is to produce the next generation of leaders which will change the world,” Poeschl told the crowd. He noted that there are several key components to making this happen.

“The first is recruiting and keeping ag teachers,” he said. “We can’t have growth unless we have teachers. We’ve invested in the Teach Ag program for 10 years and continue to do so.”

The second pillar in his strategy revolves around ag advocacy and ag literacy. “It’s important for kids and people to know where their food comes from,” he continued. “Our students learn about agriculture, and FFA trains them how to tell others about it. Hopefully, people they tell about agriculture will then tell others about it.”

The third key that will help FFA shape the future boils down to leadership development and career preparation, Poeschl said. “Our ag teachers and FFA advisors help each student find where they fit in agriculture,” he explained. “One of our students could someday be the next Norman Borlaug. Our job is to encourage our students and FFA members to be that kind of leader.”

Comments? Email [email protected].

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