By Michelle Hochstein

Confident and capable. Healthy and knowledgeable. FFA helped shape me into the person I am today. It opened many doors for me. Oh, and did I mention, made me realize my calling? I participated in agricultural communications, a career development event (CDE), hosted by the FFA. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to pursue a degree in it.

FFA has been positively influencing future generations, like me, for more than 85 years. Here are 10 things I believe your children will gain by getting involved in this program.

Leadership skills. We all want our children to be successful. Public speaking, group projects and running for offices. All activities that contribute to leadership skills. All found in FFA.

Knowledge of agriculture. How do tractors run? What exactly is a cotton boll? What’s the proper way to handle an animal? Just ask anyone involved in FFA. They’ll tell you.

Healthy living. This organization provides the building blocks toward a healthy lifestyle. Members learn about food, where it comes from and how to keep it safe and environmentally friendly.

Confidence. Many children today have no social outlets. Giving them a chance to meet people, complete projects and enter contests will spur a self confidence in them that many children lack.

Good sportsmanship. We live in a world where “every child is a winner.” But the truth is they aren’t. What they need to learn is competition. Stock shows, skills tests and speaking contests are all outlets in which children can participate in healthy competition.

Work ethic. FFA members complete a wide variety of projects throughout the year. These projects require dedication, time management and hard work.

Community service. “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.” That’s the FFA way. Enough said.

Lifelong friendships. All things aside, your children will make friends who share the same passion for agriculture. These friends become peers. Then colleagues.

Scholarship opportunities. We all want our children to get a college education. But face it. College comes with a big price tag. Let FFA help you.

And many other skills. Entomology. Communication. Horticulture. Food quality inspection. Economic and business development. The opportunities are endless and expand outside agriculture.

Everyone should take advantage of what this organization has to offer!

A version of this blog was originally posted on Texas Agriculture Talks on June 11, 2015. Michelle Hochstein was the Texas Farm Bureau Communications intern at the time.