gives students firsthand experiences with meat processing
and fabrication, and they graduate with a full knowledge of
the meat processing industry. Program graduates receive their
meat processing certification, and some immediately begin
employment with wages above entry level.
The AgriScience Magnet Program (AMP) at North East
ISD’s James Madison High School has constructed a 20-acre
complex that offers concentrations in agribusiness, agricultural mechanics, animal science, environmental science,
floriculture and plant science, food processing, and veterinary technology. The AMP complex is equipped with varied
laboratories, and students can earn industry-recognized
certifications as well as advanced placement college course
In New Waverly ISD, FFA members launched their own
agricultural robotics team. Students use engineering skills
to build robots for specific needs, leveraging the scientific
method to appropriately solve problems, hypothesize, invent,
experiment, and refine until they distill the most efficient
At Bryan ISD’s Rudder High School, students are noted
for winning competitions at statewide agriscience fairs. Students are currently conducting research in numerous areas,
including agriculture, food, and natural resources. This year,
a Rudder High FFA student is a candidate for the National
FFA’s American Star in Agricultural Science Award.
For FFA students, agricultural sciences are also a means
to create stronger communities and serve the greater good.
At Northwest ISD’s Byron Nelson High School, FFA members raise service dogs that go on to formal school to become
guide dogs, comfort animals, and medical alert companions.
Students receive the puppies when they are six weeks old and
spend time every day training them with commands, taking
them everywhere along the way.
The students have graduated 21 dogs from the program.
“It’s amazing,” said teacher Natalie Eddelman. “Just to see
the growth in the students is incredible.”
Corynne Turner has raised and trained four dogs
throughout her high school tenure. “It’s a lot of work, a lot
of responsibility.… As much as I want to say I love these
dogs and I want to keep them, I understand that they’re
going to a better purpose. I’ve learned giving away is so
Riley McKenzie, a Stephenville High School student, is an
FFA vice-president, state and national AgriScience Fair cham-
pion, and student council member for four years running. But
she was still looking for more ways to build a better community,
and the FFA gave her the means to do it. McKenzie integrated
a horticulture outreach program for special-needs students that
taught them about gardening and forged new relationships.
“No one was really interacting, so I created an outreach
program for special-needs students to get them involved in horticulture,” said McKenzie, who engaged with 15 special-needs
students through the program in the 2017-18 school year.
Core Values beyond Graduation
The FFA still trains the farmers and ranchers of tomorrow, but the organization has evolved to become about much
more than training directly agricultural vocations. The FFA
has launched business careers, established CEOs, and played
an integral role in creating some of Texas’s most respected
The FFA’s core values of inclusion, respect, ethics, integrity, character, passion, excellence, service, and community
apply to every field. Each value contributes to a better student
who will grow up to build a better world, whether the student
becomes a rancher, doctor, politician, engineer, or marketing
Grainger, the Texas FFA 2009 president, said that her
FFA experience, including serving as a Texas FFA Foundation
ambassador, served her well. “I think the FFA really helped
me find who I was as a young adult. Before, I was just too shy
to talk to people or do anything outside of my comfort zone.
The FFA really gave me that drive to go out and find what I
wanted to do.”
The FFA doesn’t point kids in just one direction—it gives
them direction. The world needs innovators, leaders, and
workers who are ready and willing to get the job done, and
Texas agriscience education and the FFA are preparing them
for the challenges ahead.
The blue and gold FFA jacket is about so much more
than farming. When a student puts on the FFA jacket, an
almost endless horizon of opportunities appears. In a world
where students are trying to find their space and their voice,
FFA offers something for everyone.H
Aaron Alejandro, contributing author for the Forbes Nonprofit
Council, is executive director of the Texas FFA Foundation. For
more information about the Texas FFA, visit mytexasffa.org.
The FFA’s core values of
inclusion, respect, ethics,
integrity, character, passion,
excellence, service, and
community apply to every field.
Each value contributes to a
better student who will grow up
to build a better world, whether
the student becomes a rancher,
doctor, politician, engineer, or