Local News

FFA Membership Continues To Grow; Young Women Taking Lead

Posted June 17, 2003 6:38 a.m. EDT

— At a time when farmers are staggering under low prices, foreign imports and the weather, it is hard to imagine many young people joining agriculture groups.

However, membership in

North Carolina's FFA

organization has grown to more than 13,000.

At North Carolina State University, applause and laughter mark the closing session of the state FFA convention and the election of a new president.

"It was the most incredible feeling I've ever had. My heart just skipped a beat," said Lendy Yeaman, 2003-04 president.

The group changed its name about five years ago from Future Farmers of America to FFA as part of its goal to diversify.

"FFA does have its background in farming, but we're expanding. There is so much involved in agriculture such as agribusiness and communications. Of course, there is still the production agriculture, as in farming," said Tasha Schmidt, FFA past president.

Neither Yeaman nor past President Tasha Schmidt come from a farm.

"When we talk about agriculture, we're talking about the food, fiber and natural resource system. When we talk about FFA, we're talking about an FFA organization that is reflective of that and preparing those students to go into all those diverse fields within the food, fiber and natural resource system," FFA coordinator Marshall Stewart said.

Yeaman and Schmidt are the faces of another FFA trend. Nationwide, 50 percent of the group's leaders are young women.