FFA and 4-H have been around for many years, but it seems that more recently, the organizations have been focused on getting the word out that their programs are so much more than teaching kids about agriculture.

It’s working.

These programs explore both agricultural and technical sciences while solidifying skills in public speaking, interviewing and showmanship.

A trip to the Marion County Fair restores one’s faith in the next generation. There, you will be warmly greeted by a young person, manning his or her stall, who is eager to tell you about the months of work they have put into taking care of their livestock.

Some of them will continue their education in the fields of ag and tech as they move on to higher levels of schooling, and others will not. However, they will all be able to take the lessons they learn from raising and caring for livestock and apply it in future endeavors as they grow into young men and women.

Much like with music and athletics, FFA and 4-H gives young students a hobby that can eventually grow into a career. These organizations teach young people the value of responsibility, team work, community and an appreciation of the talents they acquire after building upon hours of work poured into a single craft.

But unlike music and athletics, which only an elite few can turn into a living, 4-H and FFA prepares students for an economy that is practically begging for new skilled workers to enter the field and take hold of the welding torches, irrigation pipes and tractors from the previous generation.

Marion County has been a community based first and foremost around farming since the earliest settlers arrived. As long as the Willamette Valley continues to be an agricultural gold mine, there will always be a demand in the area for skilled farmers and technicians.

And thanks to continued support to the FFA and 4-H, there will always be a new generation ready to carry on the county’s agricultural traditions.

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