The second week of April saw blue jackets all around Ames for the 89th annual Iowa FFA Leadership Conference. FFA students from all corners of the state gathered for career development contests and discussions with their peers and agricultural employers in attendance, bringing a wave of excitement and optimism along with them.

“You can’t help but get excited about the future of agriculture when you’re around these students,” said Trent Steinhart, advisor of Washington High School’s FFA Chapter. Steinhart said his students understand and appreciate the role conservation plays in that future. “Washington County is one of the top counties in Iowa for cover crops, so conservation efforts don’t go unnoticed by students,” he said. “In class, we talk about the importance of water quality and keeping the land useful for future farmers.”

Washington FFA Chapter member Morgan Brinning reflected on another age-old value that will continue to play a key role in agriculture’s future: “I’ve gained so much responsibility and learned the value of hard work,” she recalled, speaking of her experiences growing up on a pig farm.

Attending the leadership conference also allowed these high school students to broaden their horizons and envision a number of different futures for themselves within the agricultural industry.

Noah McCammant, from Tri-County FFA Chapter, sees his future in agricultural engineering, creating new technology and implements for farmers to use. “The agriculture industry is changing so quickly,” he said. “Industries that work hand-in-hand with agriculture will merge with the agriculture industry because they cannot thrive without agriculture.”

Similarly, the future of our state and country depend on agriculture as well. With FFA teaching high school students like these about the importance of agriculture, new technologies and the importance of conservation practices, it’s safe to say that our future is bright.

By Megan Striegel. Megan is Iowa Farm Bureau’s online marketing intern.