Texas FFA News  
Standing for a Cause in the Blue Jacket    
Monday, March 15, 2021 | Author: Angelica Aldana, Texas FFA Staff

As we enter through the historic walls of pink granite on a late February morning, we can usually find a sea of hundreds of blue jackets. This week in late February celebrates one of our founding fathers’ birthdays, President George Washington. It is also the very week that brings together current FFA members, alumni, advisors and supporters to reflect, advocate, and share about the impact that this blue jacket makes on each person that wears it. 

In our great state of Texas, National FFA Week is the host of the annual Day at the Capitol experience where FFA members across the state of Texas learn about the legislative process and play a vital role in advocating for Agricultural Education, Career Technical Education (CTE), and current legislation that will impact our classrooms. Although COVID-19 changed how we execute this learning experience in 2021, the Texas FFA State Officers made it a priority to have conversations with legislators and staffers at the Capitol and remained steadfast in the reason why we host Day at the Capitol.

With the diligent help of Senator Bryan Hughes, and his dedicated staffers and schedulers, the state officer team engaged in a series of meaningful experiences that left elected officials with positive memories of FFA members.

Their week at the Capitol began on February 23rd in the Senate Chamber where Senator Hughes introduced a Senate Resolution to recognize the Texas FFA Association during National FFA Week. This moment was significant, as our state officers were the first group allowed in the Senate Chambers to watch a Senate Session since protocols were in place due to COVID-19. 

Each Senator with a state officer from their district read the state officer’s biography and shared some words in support of agricultural education and FFA. The Senate Resolution unanimously passed on the floor.

After much excitement, the state officer team went straight to work for the next two days visiting 150 House Representative offices and 31 Senate offices. Each year during Day at the Capitol, state officers visit these offices to drop off informational packets that provide current facts, statistics and information about FFA and agricultural education. This year’s team did just that, speaking with any available legislators and staffers. With the help of Ray Pieniazek, the officers were briefed on current pieces of legislation that impact agricultural education.

The officers walked into each office ready to have a conversation about House Bill 434, introduced by Representative Bell, which would add CTE credit as an option as a fine arts credit. Other bills that the officers advocated for in conversation with legislators were House Bill 334, introduced by Representative Gates, that, if passed, would increase direct funding to schools from 55% to 90% for CTE programs. The state officers were also able to advocate for these bills in scheduled meetings with their elected officials, during a meeting with members of the Senate Committee on Education, and with Chairman Burns of the House Committee on Agriculture. Their week at the Capitol also included time with current Capitol interns that shared their experiences in public service.

While reflecting on their experiences, the state officers also shared many accounts of meeting FFA alumni. As agricultural educators work tirelessly to not only teach, but cultivate leaders, it’s evident that their work is shaping the next generation of leaders in the capital city and across the entire state of Texas. One of these very alumnus and leaders serves at the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). Jordan Gregory, Policy Analyst from the Temple FFA Chapter, kindly hosted the state officer team at TDA. This interaction included a tour of the department and an interactive session to learn about what TDA does to support the industry and current issues that are a priority of the department. They were even able to meet with Commissioner Sider Miller.

Carson Davis, Texas FFA Vice President representing Area IX, also served as the chair of the Texas FFA Legislative Experience. He shared that this experience with his teammates made him realize that “Texas legislators truly have agricultural education, and their constituents’ interests at heart.” 

After advocating for our organization at the Capitol, Carson also recognized the significance of communicating with legislators in order to provide them with people and stories behind the legislation.

Watching the Texas FFA state officer team engage in conversations with elected officials, staffers, and leaders of our state reinforced that the work we do in agricultural education holds a depth of meaning and importance that shape the future of our communities, state, and nation. For resources that allow agricultural educators to bring a well-rounded legislative experience into the classroom, visit TexasFFA.org

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