Ruby Hinds of West Plains is one of 30 high school seniors from across Missouri to complete the ninth annual Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence (H.Y.P.E.) FFA Academy that was held June 27 through 29 in Jefferson City.
Sponsored by the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council (MCMC), the three-day academy is designed to inform and empower agriculture students to effectively engage in issues impacting today’s industry, said officials.
“These FFA members have the potential to be the next leaders in agriculture,” noted MCMC Chairman Brent Hoerr. “So much of our success is now tied to being able to engage in the tough conversations and issues that have the potential to help or hurt growers. Whether it be friends, neighbors, strangers online or decision-makers, being able to tell our story and share our concerns is vital. Today’s H.Y.P.E. Academy helps students hone those skills and prepare them to be the voice of rural Missouri as they head into college and their careers.”
Students learned how to effectively talk about their experiences in farming, overcome obstacles and develop their communication and personal skills, officials explained. Learning sessions included advocacy training, communication basics and social media outreach. Students heard from farmers, industry representatives, social media influencers and Congressman Mark Alford about how to effectively advocate on issues. The group also toured the Missouri Soybean Center for Innovation to learn more about the advancements and research being done on behalf of farmers.
Wrapping up the academy, participants put their skills into action during mock legislative hearings at the Missouri State Capitol. Students presented key issues to Missouri Sen. Barbara Washington and State Reps. Willard Haley, Jim Schulte, Emily Weber, Ashley Aune, Peggy McGaugh and Doyle Justus. Students also had the chance to meet with Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn.
“This is a great opportunity for our members to gain confidence, and put another tool in their advocacy toolbox,” noted Missouri FFA State Advisor Keith Dietzschold. “As seniors, these students are in a unique position to tell their story to a much broader audience in the next few years. We know these tools will not only serve them well, but agriculture as a whole and are grateful Missouri Corn continues to support this opportunity for students to grow.”
The Missouri Corn Merchandising Council is an organization of corn growers dedicated to developing and expanding corn markets, educating growers and customers, and exploring new research opportunities. Learn more at www.mocorn.org.
The National FFA Organization aims to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Learn more about the H.Y.P.E. Academy by contacting Missouri Corn Associate Director of Communications Hilary Black at 573-893-4181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.