“Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.” – FFA Motto
Gary Aycock is the supervisor of agricultural education and state FFA Advisor at New Mexico State University, where things are looking up in the world of agriculture education.
“It’s an exciting time,” Aycock said in our recent interview. “Our membership was down during COVID-19, as it’s hard to teach ag virtually. We’re up 1,500 members this year, and we’re open and in person again!”
Mr. Aycock has been teaching agriculture for over twenty years, and it’s safe to say he loves his job, and enjoys sharing his insights about the New Mexico FFA.
The National Future Farmers of America, or FFA for short, has 83 chapters, 113 teachers and 4,500 members across New Mexico.
Aycock described the New Mexico FFA as an “intracurricular student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership.”
He makes it a point to note that the FFA isn’t only for kids who want to be production farmers; FFA has students interested in becoming doctors, teachers, veterinarians, scientists, business owners, and many other professions.
“FFA offers limitless opportunities for students to grow as leaders and individuals,” Aycock said. “From the Washington Leadership Conference to serving as a chapter officer, FFA members learn responsibility, the importance of giving back to the community, and how to discover their own passion for their future.”
Community, Leadership, Service
By exposing its members to many different parts of the agriculture industry, the FFA allows young leaders to find what fuels their passions. Through career development events, career fairs, and local workplace learning, members can experience different companies in the agriculture industries.
“Many of our New Mexico FFA members have stayed in the agriculture field and are currently everything from large animal vets, pipeline welders, and field representatives for different companies,” Aycock said.
“Giving back to the community is one of the most notable things that FFA chapters in New Mexico do well. Look at our motto. The last line is, ‘Living to Serve;’ and FFA members from across the state live it every day.”
Living to Serve
The FFA uses a “Three Circle Model” of education for members. There is FFA classroom work, an ag education component, and a supervised agricultural experience such as an internship or job study program that gets students outside of the classroom.
“In my opinion,” Aycock said thoughtfully, “the purpose of FFA is to develop competent, competitive, and dynamic leaders for the agriculture industry. The FFA is structured so its members can become leaders at any level of the organization that they set their minds to.
“Some members know from day one that they want to be the state FFA president and lead their state’s FFA convention. For others, their greatest accomplishment may be that Chapter Proficiency Award that will hang on their wall forever because it’s their greatest treasure. Whatever the case may be, each student that is involved in the New Mexico FFA will come away as a better leader in one way or another.”