Does FFA Impact Lives…Just Ask

Recently an article was released from PETA that was beyond negative about the FFA. While I will not be linking the article here (I have no desire to increase its views and I do my best to only include truthful things in my blog), I can tell you it was not a fun read.

According to this article, FFA only promotes youth to murder, abuse, and unethical principles towards animals. My first thought was “goodness gracious! Way to turn the colors of National Blue and Corn Gold into a horror movie.”

My second thought was, “how sad is it that with all of the negativity in this world, with all of the negative influences affecting our youth, with all of the school shootings, bullying, and drugs, someone would attack an organization that makes a positive impact in our youth? How does this happen?”

While I have a thousand arguments that I could throw out there about how wrong the article was, I don’t want to go down that road. You see, this goes beyond a typical agriculture versus animal activist argument. This is about youth…our future. The author of the PETA article, well, they missed it. They ran into the situation, guns of assaults blazing like a bull in a china shop, but they missed it. While trying to make some sort of impact of their own, they missed the impact that FFA has on thousands of youth –629, 327 students to be exact, and that does not include alumni.

What kind of impact does FFA make on youth? All you have to do is ask, and that is what I did. I asked several FFA members how FFA had impacted their lives and to share their favorite photo. This is what I got:

“The FFA has impacted me in so many ways! It has given me a way to connect with people all over the nation as well  develop my leadership and personal skills. It has given me a deeper understanding of agriculture and its importance, not only to me, but to every single person on the earth. Without FFA, I can truly say that I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.” -Shelby Bireley, 2015-2016 NC FFA State President

Shelby’s favorite picture is the very first one taken as the NC State Officer team.

FFA has not only impacted my life, but it’s truly changed it forever. FFA has inspired me to devote my life to service and become an agricultural education teacher. FFA is far from your average club; I’ve been in quite a few clubs, and while they are great, none have influenced my life like FFA has and will continue to do. I have been in FFA since I have been in the 7th grade. Since then I have served in multiple offices (Treasurer, Vice-president, and Tobacco Federation President) and competed in several career development events including Parliamentary Procedure, Extemporaneous speaking, Agricultural Sales, Livestock judging and many more events. But nothing has meant more than the friends I’ve made through this amazing experience and the mentors I’ve had established through this life changing experience. FFA is the best experience you can have as a high-schooler, because it not only builds you as a leader, it gives you opportunity to influence and change people’s lives. That is what FFA has done for me and millions of people that have been in it. It has been one of the biggest blessings God has so greatly blessed me with.” -Alan Johnson, Spring Creek Chapter Vice President and Tobacco Federation President.

Washington Leadership Conference selfie is one of Alan’s favorite photos

“FFA opened doors that I never thought possible. The Blue Jacket provided a network of friends and family that has accelerated my life and passion for agriculture. FFA gave me a place to belong and instilled in me a love of life and passion for service. I am forever grateful to FFA, my adviser and my fellow members for their impact on me.”- John Stewart, 2011-2012 NC State FFA President


John’s favorite picture exudes joy!



FFA has shaped me into the person I am today! When I was no longer able to play contact sports because of concussions, FFA provided me everything contact sports did plus more. It gave me the chance to take the drive and passion I put into my sports and put them into FFA. I plan to run for a State FFA officer position, to attend an agriculture college, to pursue a career in agriculture, and give back to the organization that has shaped me into who I am today and aspire to be in the future! I have learned from FFA through the Classroom, Career Development Events, and my Supervised Agricultural Experiment.” -Trey Palmer, Orange FFA Chapter President

Trey, second from left receiving his state degree.
National Convention

“Long story short, FFA made me who I am today. There were about six years where FFA was a majority of my life. To me, it’s more than a club. It is family, passion, faith, and tradition. I have met a lot of my closest friends through my experiences with FFA. I also explain to people that this organization took a young, (for the most part) shy, young boy and made me into a young leader in the agricultural industry who strives to do his best and encourages others to do the same. FFA has taken me to South Africa and Costa Rica, not to mention all over the United States. I have made friends all across the nation through FFA and feel like I could call a good majority of them up if I ever needed anything. We say that the three pillars of FFA are premier leadership, personal growth, and career success. Yes, that is why we do what we do: to develop young people into leaders who have a passion and purpose in life. However, to me, FFA is something I will take with me throughout the rest of my life. Some of my greatest triumphs, as well as greatest defeats have been through experiences in FFA.” -Bradley Glover, 2013-2014 NC State FFA Vice President


Bradley was able to meet a lot of people through FFA including NC Secretary of Agriculture, Steve Troxler

Bradley went on to express his thoughts on the article from PETA…

“In response to the article written by PETA, if the writer was once an FFA member, they never got the idea of it fully. They missed the whole purpose. Those CDE’s and other opportunities mentioned do not exist to promote unethical treatment of any living being. Instead, they are aspects of the agricultural industry. The National FFA Organization has set out to make its members successful in agriculture, or any industry in which they choose to work, as well as promoting that they grow as a person each and every day to make this world a better place. A major aspect of this organization that many people often forget is service. FFA members are constantly giving back to their communities. I am proud to be an FFA Alumni and will always stand with the agriculture industry. We are not perfect, but we are always trying to be better.” -BG


Of course, these testimonies of how the FFA has made an impact are just a drop in the bucket. FFA is something positive for our youth. Agriculture aside, it develops skills, connections, and life lessons that can be used in any scenario. I’ve seen it make an impact time and time again. Unfortunately, some people don’t see that, but that is where you come in. PETA told an FFA story, and it was dead wrong (no pun intended). Now it’s your turn. How has FFA impacted your life? Share your story, and let your voice be heard in the comments section. Let’s fill it up with all of the ways that FFA helps build our future…our youth.

So, my challenge to you is, A) don’t share the PETA article. It only gives them more attention and traction. B) Try not to get too angry. Anger shuts people down. C) share your excitement and passion! Let your voice be heard. You can start now, by commenting how FFA has impacted your life. Ready, set, go!



PETA says #WoolFreeWinter, but really it should be #WearMoreWool

With the start of cold weather, PETA and company have started a campaign against wool. The following photo and the hashtag #WoolFreeWinter has gone viral.

peta sheepThe photo is quite gruesome, I must say, BUT it isn’t really true. How can it not be true when it is staring you in the face? I cannot deny that the photo happened somewhere; however, the statement “you can’t have one without the other” is NOT true. It is plain and simple. That is not how wool is taken from sheep. If it was, I wouldn’t have many sheep left on my farm.

Wool is sheared from a sheep much the same as your hair can be buzzed from your head. The animal may yell a bit because they aren’t thrilled about being confined, but ultimately, the sheep runs away a few pounds lighter, much cooler, and very alive. I don’t know where this photo came from; however, it is more likely that what you are seeing is the beginnings of a pelt. Pelts include the wool and hide from a sheep, and no, sheep are not skinned alive. Pelting a sheep is all part of the process of utilizing as much of the sheep (meat, organs, pelts, bones, etc.) as possible once harvested.

Sheep need to be sheared on an annual basis. They do not naturally shed their wool and by shearing season, it can weigh around 15 pounds. When you use wool, you are not only helping the sheep out, but are utilizing natural resources.

“You can’t have one without the other” is so very true; however, these words are not properly paired with the correct photo. A proper portrayal can be seen in the following photo:cant have one without the other

I promise I have worn wool from my sheep, and they are still enjoying the life of a sheep at this very moment (In the above picture, I’m wearing a 100% wool sweater).  The entire wool industry does not need to be boycotted because of this misinformation. It is completely ethical and fine to wear wool. In fact, it would be greatly beneficial to have a little more wool in your closet. Wool is an amazing fiber that has some fantastic qualities.

Did you know?

  • Wool is flame retardant. If you set it on fire, it will extinguish itself.
  • It is comparatively stronger than steel.
  • Wool can absorb 30% of its weight in moisture and not feel wet or clammy.
  • It has great durability and can fold back on itself 20,000 times without breaking, while cotton can only be folded back 3,000 times and silk 2,000 times.
  • Wool fibers can be stretched 50% when wet and 30% when dry and still bounce back to its original form, giving it an A+ in the flexibility category.

If those qualities aren’t awesome enough, wool is also an extremely versatile fiber, making it wearable all year round. “Hold up!” I hear you say, “Wool is hot and itchy and not for summer.” That is stereotyping. Wool can be thin and lacy. It can be super soft and also itchy. It all depends on the type of wool (check back on Friday for an explanation of the different types). Think of wool like a cooler or thermos. Because of its makeup, wool keeps warmth in during the cold, and cool in during the heat. It isn’t just for winter; it is for everyday of the year.

PETA wants a #WoolFreeWinter, but I say #WearMoreWool. Post those pictures of you and your wooliness. Wool is too fantastic not to wear. It isn’t cruel. It helps sheep. Besides, mimicking is the highest form of flattery. So mimic the sheep and #WearMoreWool. See just what it is to be in sheep’s clothing.

wear more wool

Sources: American Sheep Industry Association