Paris High School FFA officers Marlena Long and Aly Francis joined Missouri’s top 30 FFA high school seniors at the fourth annual Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence (HYPE) FFA Academy last week in Columbia.
Paris High School FFA officers Marlena Long and Aly Francis joined Missouri’s top 30 FFA high school seniors at the fourth annual Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence (HYPE) FFA Academy last week in Columbia. The three-day intensive program is designed to inform and empower students to effectively engage on 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.
“The HYPE program is a solid investment in the future of our industry,” said Missouri Corn Merchandising Council Chairman Mark Scott of Wentzville. “I am impressed with FFA members every time I am around them, and this academy is no exception. It shows young people what goes into agriculture as a whole; it is not just growing crops or raising cattle. The legislative side is key and can have a great impact on the industry.”
Over the three days, 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 Association’s Bay Farm and its innovations in crop production, research and soybean biotechnology.
“HYPE Academy is an opportunity for students to engage in conversation surrounding current agricultural issues they otherwise would not be exposed to,” said Jessica Janorschke, Dekalb High School FFA member and 2018 HYPE graduate. “It is a safe zone to ask questions, build your network of industry influencers and practice sharing your story.”
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, the 2018 Farm Bill, lab-produced meat labeling, a Foot and Mouth vaccination bank, and an E15 Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) approval. Missouri Sens. Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown) and Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) and State Reps. Sonya Anderson (R-Springfield), Rusty Black (R-Chillicothe), Jay Houghton (R-Martinsburg), Deb Lavender (D-Kirkwood), Hannah Kelly (R-Mountain Grove) and Tracy McCreery (D-St. Louis) interacted with and challenged the students. Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn concluded the academy by empowering participants to use their newfound skills as they continue to represent Missouri’s number one industry.
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. 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. Contact Missouri Corn Associate Director of Communications Hilary Black at (800) 827-4181 for more information about HYPE Academy.