Thirty high school seniors from across Missouri completed the third annual Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence (HYPE) FFA Academy June 27-29, in Columbia, Mo.

Thirty high school seniors from across Missouri completed the third annual Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence (HYPE) FFA Academy June 27-29, in Columbia, Mo.

Ashlyn Peterson, of the Madison High School FFA, attended the academy.

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 hosted by the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at the University of Missouri.

“The young people involved in agriculture are our future,” noted Missouri Corn board member Gary Porter of Mercer who shared his farm story and the importance of being involved during an industry panel. “We must give them every advantage possible and the knowledge we have accumulated over the years to help them, and the industry as a whole be successful.”

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 heard from farmers, industry representatives, bloggers and Congressman Jason Smith on how to effectively advocate on issues. The group also toured the University’s Bradford Farm to learn more about advancements in crop production and research for a stronger agriculture future.

Wrapping up the academy, participants put their skills into action during mock legislative hearings at the Missouri State Capitol. Students presented on key issues to Missouri Sens. Brian Munzlinger and Caleb Rowden and State Reps. Rusty Black, Bill Reiboldt, Jay Houghton, Joshua Peters and Tracy McCreery. Students also had a chance to meet with Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn.