Being a recipient of the FFA American Degree award is synonymous with being a rock star in the ag industry. And as a proud supporter of the National FFA Organization, we help sponsor the American Degree Dinner that honors these amazingly talented students each year. According to the FFA website, the “American FFA Degree is awarded to members who have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to FFA and made significant accomplishments in their supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs).” Not sure what an SAE is? I wasn’t either. But the FFA’s explains it all right here.
As a 2018 American FFA Degree award recipient, Jacob Larkin is a perfect example of how the FFA creates leaders who’ll take their future careers by storm. We sat down with him to discuss all things FFA related and how this group helped him prepare for his future.
Why did you join FFA? I grew up on my Grandpa’s farm and developed a love for agriculture. My high school has a very successful FFA Chapter, and I wanted to be a part of all the excitement.
What have you gained from being an FFA member? The biggest things I’ve gained from FFA are research skills from my Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) project, public speaking skills, and the ability to organize events.
What are your career goals? I’ve selected Precision Agriculture Technology as my field of study because technology is a major part of the developing future of agriculture. I plan to provide producers with the proper tools and knowledge to reduce expenses and increase production, so they will be more profitable and maintain sustainability. As a precision agriculture specialist, my goal is to improve financial returns on the investment producers make on each acre and with each dollar of committed working capital. I also plan to work on my family farm and eventually take over the operation and management. Our family farm is very important to me; it has taught me hard work and dedication.
How has your participation in the FFA helped you decide on those career goals? I always knew growing up that I wanted to work in agriculture. Growing my FFA SAE project in Agriscience Research made me realize I wanted to be involved with precision agriculture opportunities and research. I’m currently attending Parkland College studying Precision Agriculture Technology and plan to transfer to South Dakota State University in the fall of 2019 to complete my degree. South Dakota State University is the first and only university to develop this cutting-edge program. As quickly as new technology is being developed, new classes are being created for students.
What would you tell incoming high school students about joining the FFA? I would encourage all high school students to join FFA and be involved with as many activities as you possibly can. You’ll gain friendships, leadership skills, public speaking skills, and the opportunity to work with the agriculture industry.
What was your favorite part about being an FFA member? My favorite part of being an FFA Member has been meeting new people from all over the United States. I’ve participated in State and National Leadership Camps, State and National Conventions, Chapter Exchanges, and numerous Career and Leadership Development Events that have helped me grow in many ways.
“Member of the National FFA Organization” is much more than a line on a resume or college application. It’s a title that generates pride in its members, and garners respect in the ag industry. The FFA helps mold the future of young adults by instilling them with the passion and skills to serve their communities. Members and alumni truly live by the organization’s motto:
Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.
Are you a current or former FFA member? How did the FFA help you in your career? What skills did you learn that were invaluable as you entered the job market?