Missouri’s top 30 FFA high school seniors completed the fifth annual Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence (HYPE) FFA Academy June 25-27, in Columbia, Missouri.
Chillicothe FFA member Montana Plattner was a member of the top 30 attending the program. The three-day intensive program is designed to inform and empower students to effectively engage in pressing agriculture topics. Since 2015, the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council has sponsored and facilitated the academy in conjunction with Missouri FFA. This year’s academy was hosted at the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
Over the three-day conference, students participated in sessions promoting advocacy training, social media, communication, and stakeholder collaboration. In addition, topics included overcoming adversity, developing a personal brand, and engaging those with opposing viewpoints. Students learned from farmers, industry representatives, social media experts, and others on how to effectively advocate about issues facing the industry. The group explored the Missouri Soybean Bay Farm and its innovations in crop production, research, and soybean biotechnology.
In culmination, participants testified on key issues during mock hearings with legislators at the Missouri State Capitol. This year’s topics included tariffs and trade, eminent domain, lab-produced meat labeling, river management, and the federal Renewable Fuel Standard. Missouri Sen. Mike Bernskoetter (R-Jefferson City) and State Reps. Rusty Black (R-Chillicothe), Barbara Washington (D-Kansas City), Don Rone (R-Portageville), Jeff Porter (R-Montgomery City), Kent Haden (R-Mexico), Louis Riggs (R-Hannibal), and Tracy McCreery (D-St. Louis) interacted with and challenged the students. Missouri Corn CEO Gary Marshall provided the closing keynote, empowering participants to use their newfound skills as they continue to represent Missouri’s number one industry.