CELEBRATING FFA WEEK
By Darcy Dougherty Maulsby/Farm News staff writer
ANKENY – American inventor and businessman Charles Kettering noted, “My interest is in the future, because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.”
This same spirit defines the FFA Enrichment Center, which is helping train the next generation of ag leaders.
“The world is projected to reach nine billion people by 2050, and the people who will feed this population are today’s middle school and high school students,” said Josh Remington, 29, executive director of the Iowa FFA Foundation. “As we continue to look for ways to stay ahead of the curve and prepare students for the future, the FFA Enrichment Center is more relevant than ever.”
Located near Ankeny’s new Prairie Trail community on the campus of Des Moines Area Community College, the 60,000-square-foot center, which opened in early 2010, is designed to help future generations of Iowans prepare for careers in agriculture.
The $13 million facility boasts six breakout rooms, a biotechnology laboratory, a state-of-the art communications center, computer labs and a spacious exhibition hall that can accommodate trade shows. These facilities provide hands-on learning activities that promote leadership development, personal growth and career success for more than 12,000 Iowa FFA members and DMACC students enrolled in the veterinary technologies and agribusiness programs.
“This facility is a national treasure that is allowing Iowa and the FFA to lead out loud,” said Rob Denson, an Iowa native and former FFA chapter president, who serves as president and chief executive officer of DMACC. “It also allows DMACC to help students get a better education, go on to higher education or return to the farm, and continue to do well.”
Teaching the teachers
To enhance ag education in Iowa, the FFA Enrichment Center hosts a number of training opportunities for FFA students and instructors throughout the year. It offers an Iowa twist on the national FFA’s popular 212/360 leadership program, which helps students gain new leadership skills while gaining a global perspective on agriculture.
In addition, the center is one of two institutions in the nation, along with Rutgers University, that will pilot the Curriculum for Ag Science Education from the National Council for Agricultural Education.
“We’re not just talking about where the future of ag education needs to be,” said Remington, a former Linn-Marr FFA member. “We’re teaching the teachers about new methods for delivering ag education.”
The FFA Enrichment Center provides a unique setting for this training. As one of the newest conference centers in central Iowa, the building features a large conference room that can seat more than 500 people and can be split into two rooms, as needed.
To better prepare Iowa’s youth for leadership roles in agriculture, the Iowa FFA Foundation is looking for input through its new feasibility study. The organization is seeking people with a passion for agriculture,dedicated to educating the future generation and those who have ever been affiliated with agricultural education, to hold discussions regarding a future campaign for growth.
“We would like to know who may be a good candidate to volunteer with fundraising or who might want to make a gift to support the Iowa FFA Foundation in our campaign for the future of ag education in Iowa,” Remington said. Donations could be used to help retire the FFA Enrichment Center debt, he said, or build a maintenance endowment, endow staff positions and assist with programming statewide.
The Foundation is seeking people interested in establishing scholarships or endowments to support local FFA chapters or who would be interested in helping offset the expenses for the state competitive events, conferences and programs that many students attend each year.
“This is an incredible time to be involved in agriculture and ag education is vital,” Remington said. “Anyone who supports ag education supports the future.”
For more information on the Iowa FFA Foundation and the FFA Enrichment Center, log onto www.iowaffafoundation.org
To learn more about the Iowa FFA Foundation’s feasibility study, e-mail email@example.com.
You can contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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