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To the editor:
The National FFA Organization provides leadership,
personal growth and career success training through agricultural
education to 540,379 student members in grades seven through 12 who
belong to one of 7,489 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S.,
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
This summer, for seven weeks, more than 2,200 students will
attend our Washington Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. This
seven-week event helps students develop leadership skills, identify
personal strengths, develop awareness of societal differences and
human needs, and strategize how they can help others through
community service. Each student develops a community-service
initiative for their local community, with the intention of students
returning home and implementing their plans.
Students come to the conference wanting to learn how to make a
difference in the world. They leave knowing they can -- and will.
That's exactly what Sierra Coulthard did last year.
After last year's event, the Wisconsin high school FFA member
returned home and immediately connected with Nashville-based
Soles4Souls, which since 2005 has secured more than 17 million new
and gently used shoes for people throughout the world. The charity
shipped her a supply of shoe boxes that she placed throughout her
hometown of Neillsville for donations. Nearly 1,000 pairs of shoes
were given to the "Sierra's Shoes" drive.
And last month, Coulthard had the opportunity to personally
deliver shoes to deserving children in Haiti.
[to top of second column in this letter]
I believe students are generally aware of global problems like
hunger and poverty, but many are sheltered and disconnected from
what's happening in the world. During their time at our conference,
FFA members experience real-world problems and take critical steps
toward personal growth and developing leadership skills they'll need
to make a difference in people's lives, starting in their own
The conclusion of each weekly session of the Washington
Leadership Conference is a Day of Service, where students work
together on a real, hands-on community-service project. Last year,
through each week's Day of Service, students contributed a total of
$85,283 worth of volunteer labor. Students packed, sorted and
distributed more than 29.5 tons of produce and shipped more than
100,000 meals overseas. This year, FFA members will volunteer more
than 9,500 hours to pack and ship thousands of meals to Nicaragua to
help the Third World country battle hunger.
Today's FFA is thriving and deeply committed, through
opportunities like the Washington Leadership Conference, to
developing students' potential to become leaders in our country's
No. 1 industry -- agriculture.
W. Dwight Armstrong, Ph.D.
Chief executive officer
National FFA Organization
For more about the National FFA Organization's Washington
Leadership Conference, visit
June 09, 2012]
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