Twenty-nine high school seniors from across Missouri completed the second annual Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence (HYPE) FFA Academy June 28-30, in Trenton, Mo. The three-day academy is designed to inform and empower agriculture students to effectively engage in today’s issues. It was sponsored by the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council and held at North Central Missouri College.
“This is a great opportunity to provide young people with the tools to get out and voice their agriculture experience,” said Missouri Corn Merchandising Council Chairman Gary Porter of Mercer, Mo., who shared his farm story with students during an industry panel. “These students are so sharp, so far ahead of the game compared to what we were when we were their age. They have the skills and background to confidently tell their story and offer a unique perspective on Missouri agriculture.”
Students learned how to effectively talk about their experiences in farming, overcome obstacles and develop their communication and personal skills. Learning sessions included advocacy training, communication basics, and social media outreach. Students also heard from farmers, industry representatives, bloggers and Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer on how to effectively advocate on issues. The group also toured Show Me Ethanol, LLC., in Carrollton, Mo., to learn more about the ethanol industry and the importance of being involved in the legislative and regulatory process.
Wrapping up the academy, participants put their skills into action during mock legislative hearings. Students presented on key issues to Missouri Sens. Brian Munzlinger and Dan Hegeman and State Reps. Allen Andrews, Bill Reiboldt, J. Eggleston, Jay Houghton and Joe Don McGaugh.
“This is such a great learning opportunity. It is so much more than sitting in the ag classroom or doing contest teams. It is actually going out and seeing real life situations and how we can be involved in the industry we’re passionate about,” said HYPE participant Abby Bertz of the Odessa FFA Chapter. “It’s our turn and our obligation as the next generation of agriculturalists to take what we know and share it.”
Learn more about HYPE by contacting Missouri Corn Communications Manager Hilary Black at (573) 893-4181 or [email protected]. The National FFA Organization makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. 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.