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Nat'l FFA CEO Speaks to FFA


by Carolina Keegan

Published: Friday, September 15, 2023

National FFA CEO Scott Stump highlighted the Columbia City Blue Jacket Bash last Thursday at Indian Springs Middle School in Columbia City.

"I wanted to get away from ag education," Stump said, because his family was full of agricultural educators. Most prominent in his life was his father, Ned, a longtime agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Prairie Heights High School. However, life has a funny way of coming full circle.

He attended Purdue University to study agricultural engineering, but after spending a year traveling to schools as a state officer, he knew he was in the wrong lane.

"In those classrooms, I found that my purpose wasn't going to be in a lab. God really defined in me a need, like the rest of my family, to be an educator," Stump said.

So, he changed his major and never looked back. After graduation, he began working as an agriculture teacher in North Manchester and has worked with National FFA in various aspects before being named CEO in 2021. He also worked for the U.S. Department of Education as the assistant secretary for the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education from 2018-2021.

Through his work with the U.S. Department of Education, Stump began working with the job opening and labor turnover statistics.

Now he encourages FFA students to find their place in agriculture.

"We are in a war for talent across this country," he said. "We do not have young people, adults with skills necessary to meet the needs of our growing economy."

However, he believes FFA is the solution.

"On a daily basis across the country, teachers are working with over 945,000 students" in FFA, he said. "It gives me hope, because we're growing the next generation of leaders who are going to change the world, and those leaders are going to have the skills employers are looking for. They're going to have the experience that drives them to solve problems in unique ways."

The way that happens is through the personal growth experiences FFA students have, which often push youths out of their comfort zone. The students who are willing to push themselves and try new things will go far, Stump said. He looks forward to seeing the numerous farmers, ranchers, agronomists, artificial insemination technicians, entrepreneurs, chemists, etc. that will come out of FFA.

"They are the ones we are going to rely on to feed the additional billion people who are going to be on this planet by 2050," he said.

For those students who hesitate, he encourages them to step out bravely.

Stump also urges all FFA students and agricultural families to tell their stories and to remain involved.

"We're going to continue to grow the next generation of leaders who are going to change the world. Not just in this community, but in communities all over the United States of America, and when we do, those students are going to thrive, the communities are going to thrive and, ultimately, our nation is going to thrive."

After Stump spoke, the chapter held its annual pie auction, and members spoke about their experiences in the FFA.

Columbia City FFA is heading toward multiple national, state and local contests in the 2023-24 school year, including an upcoming national horticulture contest. In support of their efforts, community members placed bids for 10 different pies.

The black raspberry pie was bought by Brian and Sonya Emeric of Micropulse for $1,100 and donated back for resale to Arden Schrader for $1,000. A triple berry pie went to Jeff Mize of AgPlus for $1,300, one caramel apple pie sold to Braden Cofelt of Cider Mill for $1,810 and the other went to Doug Schrader and Schrader Farms for $1,600.

The sugar cream pie sold to Ace Hardware for $1,300, Seth Schrader bought the peach pie for $1,400 and the pecan pe sold to Culver's for $1,200. Heinbald Farms won the bid of $800 for the pear pie. The Adam Hurley family paid $1,200 for cherry pie, which was resold to Jerry Barron for $1,000.

The highest bid was placed by Peter Rouch of Rouch Family Farms. He paid a record $1,900 for the pumpkin pie, which he requested in last year's auction. The previous record was $1,805, which he set last year.

Also selling was a floral arrangement, purchased by Ace Hardware for $950.

In total, the 10 pies brought in $14,410, bringing the combined sales to $15,360. Last year, 12 pies sold for $15,755.

"Because of your graciousness, I have been able to participate in many contests every year, and have gotten the opportunity to travel to five different states," said Columbia City FFA President Makenzie Hoskins.

Caden Poling, treasurer, Kyle Porter, vice president, and Lauren Rouch, a senior member of the chapter, echoed Hoskins thanks.

"Thank you to all who are here to support us tonight," Rouch added. "All of you here tonight are part of that connection (made between FFA students), too we couldn't have made this happen without you."

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