Ohio FFA and 4-H organizations are priming the state’s next generation of agricultural leaders, with both groups offering ample opportunities for young people to develop leadership skills and discover the value of hard work, discipline and dedication through experiential learning.
Ohio FFA Provides Hands-On Agricultural Education
For example, the Ohio FFA Association – comprising more than 25,000 members in just over 310 chapters across the state – gives members opportunities to serve as chapter and state officers in leadership roles such as president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. Through Career Development Events, members can serve as team leaders and compete against others in areas such as agricultural communications, veterinary science and floriculture.
In addition, Ohio FFA members participate in Supervised Agricultural Experiences in which
they apply academic and occupational skills in the workplace, and they have opportunities to attend local, regional, and national leadership-focused events and conferences.
“The Ohio FFA is at the forefront of youth development because we have the unique opportunity to reach students both inside and outside of the classroom,” says Jessica Parrish, executive director of the Ohio FFA Foundation.
“In their agricultural education programs, members are able to learn about the ag industry and prepare for careers, and they get to apply those lessons through FFA’s various Career Development Events, conferences, camps and leadership events. As a result, they’re capitalizing on what they’re learning and taking it to the next level.”
Ohio 4-H Offers Leadership Learning
With more than 71,000 club members, Ohio 4-H also offers programming and experiences geared toward leadership development.
Selected members can attend the annual Ohio 4-H State Leadership Camp, a five-day camp designed to prepare young people ages 15 to 18 to make an immediate impact on their home 4-H club, county, community and school. The Ohio 4-H Teen Leadership Council – a statewide group of 4-H teens and young 4-H alumni – gives members stakeholder perspective in the planning, implementation and evaluation of Ohio 4-H programming.
In addition, many Ohio 4-H members learn leadership skills as they prepare for the Ohio State Fair, where they present self-selected projects ranging from livestock, clothing and textile science to photography, natural resources, leadership and citizenship. Ohio 4-Hers can also compete in other statewide events, like the State 4-H Horse Bowl Contest and the Ohio 4-H Dairy Judging Contest, along with an array of local and regional events.
“Ohio 4-H helps club members develop decision-making skills and responsibility,” says Dr. Thomas Archer, assistant director of 4-H Youth Development in Ohio. “Our members learn to see projects through to completion, too, and that’s something that will serve them for years to come.”