Austin, Texas is known for the Capitol building and Texas Longhorns, but it is also home to the Texas FFA Ford Leadership Center. During the first week of January, the State FFA Officer team visited Austin, toured the Capitol and met with several influential political and agricultural leaders.
During a meeting with Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture Drew DeBery, the officers discussed the need for and the importance of agricultural advocacy. The officers discussed agricultural advocacy efforts being made through “Texas Proud of Texas Agriculture,” which is a program to help inform consumers and policy makers on the importance of agriculture and its impact on Texas, America and the world.
“Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture Drew DeBery made sure to introduce us to every influential person around us,” said Kelli Neuman, Area IX State Vice President. “His sincere interest in our team made me proud that Texas agriculture is in such great hands.”
Throughout the week, the state officers joined agricultural and political figures in meetings. They conveyed their experiences in the public education system in a meeting with Commissioner of Education Robert Scott. The officers also met with Blaine Brunson and Julia Rathgeber, Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff for Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, where they learned about the duties and responsibilities of the Lt. Governor’s position.
“During our time with each of these individuals, I began to see that agricultural education and the FFA do have individuals on Capitol Hill that care about us and believe in our cause. They realize that we, as FFA members, are the future of not only the state of Texas, but also the world,” said Krysti Kelley, Area X State Vice President.
The weeks’ other activities included touring the Capitol with the State Preservation Board.
“We were granted the opportunity to do something very few people have done - climb to the very top of the Capitol Building. This was an amazing experience, because it allowed us to learn about our state's history and see the magnitude of influence our generation does and will have,” Kelley said.
Visiting with the political and agricultural figures gave the state officer team an insight into how agriculture is dealt with in a political environment.
“I think it is great for everyone at the Capitol to see our blue jackets. It makes people stop, wonder and remember their purpose. We are not just then nation's largest youth led organization. We are a representation of the future, and it is important for politicians to be reminded of that,” Kelley said.