Future Farmers of Alabama changes with the times

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DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — Even as agriculture has changed over the years, Future Farmers of Alabama says it’s remaining relevant.

Students in the program learn leadership and public speaking — skills being lost over time with technology and communicating through texting, officials said at a recent event in southeast Alabama.

Leadership and communication skills have always been key parts of the FFA’s mission, The Dothan Eagle reported .

To earn a state farmer degree in 1929, members had to be able to lead a group discussion for 40 minutes and be involved in school activities such as the debate team.

As times changed, some tasks are no longer required for a state farmer degree, such as passing a test of which chickens to remove from a flock because they’re ill, injured or inferior, and a test of handsaw-sharpening.

At a recent ceremony in Dale County, schools Superintendent Ben Baker signed a proclamation declaring FFA Week for Dale County Schools. He was surrounded by organization members dressed in the blue corduroy jackets made the group’s official dress in 1933.

Dale County agricultural teacher and FFA adviser Emily Soles found the Dale County location appropriate since one of the original signees of the Alabama charter, Jim Espy, was from Midland City. Espy and Ozark native Loyd Ezell both served on the executive committee of the state organization in 1929 and signed the state charter into existence.

Students drive the organization, and cannot be successful without competent and willing student leaders, the Dothan newspaper reported. Though participation in FFA has slackened over the years due to a lack of student involvement, interest is still strong, Soles said.

“It has been picking up,” she said. “We have some awesome leaders who are planning a lot of activities for the group.”

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