Tyler County FFA Officers Deal with Agriculture Subjects | Information, Sports activities, Jobs


Tyler County Officers recently wrote articles highlighting agriculture topics. This is the third in a series of these articles that will be posted in the Tyler Star News.

Agriculture In West Virginia

By: Austin VanCamp

Personally, when I think about agriculture in West Virginia, I think cattle. I have been around cows my entire life. My family has run either a dairy cow or beef farm for over a century. I have always enjoyed going to my great grandfather’s farm and working with the animals and farm equipment. Although cattle operations are where my mind goes, there are many diverse agribusinesses and products in the state of West Virginia.

What is agriculture? Agriculture can range from flowers to a two hundred head cattle farm. Locally, many people enjoy planting flowers around their house or running a small garden to provide some fruit and vegetables for their families. Although these are small operations, it is still agriculture and an important way for our community members to grow their own food. Many people, including my mother, have a garden every year. You can harvest and preserve the crops for yourself or sell at the local farmer’s market. Small farms have always been a staple to West Virginia communities.

Agriculture within West Virginia looks very different than that of other states, especially those in the Midwest. As of 2018, 98% of West Virginia’s 3.6 million acres of farmland are considered small farms. Within our state, the top five commodities include poultry and eggs, cattle and calves, hay, dry grains, and greenhouse/ nursery crops. While our state has fewer âprofessionalã farmers than surrounding areas, our communities are still eager for locally grown agriculture products.

Animal production plays a role in the agricultural industry in West Virginia. Whether these animals are cows, chickens, sheep, or even fish, they are all related to agriculture. When looking at large-scale agriculture operations within the state, poultry is a major commodity. Poultry production plays a major role in the agricultural industry within the state, as it is our

number one agriculture commodity and annually, we rank among the top producing poultry states within the nation. Another huge factor in our agriculture industry is hay. When you drive around rural West Virginia in the summer, all you see around you is hay fields. To me, hay is amazing. Not only is it great for all our animals, but it also smells absolutely amazing when being cut and baled. Hay accounts for 2% of West Virginia’s total agriculture receipts.

West Virginia citizens are interested in locally grown products to support themselves and invest in their communities. Agriculture producers within the state are diverse and search for methods of marketing their products to the markets available to them.

What is FFA in Tyler County?ã

By: Abbigail Kimble

FFA is a national, student-led organization that previously stood for the Future Farmers of America, but now just goes by the National FFA organization due to the fact that the organization is not exclusively for students aspiring to become farmers. The organization is welcoming to all members no matter the career field they want to pursue. FFA encourages personal growth and leadership of its members through classroom activities, career development events, leadership development events, supervised agricultural experiences, and community service activities.

It all starts in the classroom with teaching about FFA and the organization in the Intro to Agriculture class offered for first year members. The students will learn about the organization and the history behind it along with the time-honored traditions that have been passed down through the years. After the first intro class, there are many more opportunities and avenues that expose different areas of agriculture. Agriculture education offers a wide variety of classes varying from floriculture to agriculture mechanics to natural resources and so much more.

Taking an agriculture class and being involved in FFA opens many doors and gives many opportunities to students. Participating in career developmental events, CDEs, prepares the students for future careers and gives them some real-life experience. CDEs also can let students reach out of their comfort zone and try something they would not have otherwise. These experiences may even cause a student to pursue a particular career and go into that field of work one day, because they were exposed to it via a FFA event.

Just recently, members of the Tyler FFA had the opportunity to participate in the FFA legislative day at the capital. Alongside other FFA members from chapters all over the state, we were able to view a legislative session. Additionally, while at the capitol building, we were able to meet and discuss important agricultural issues in our state with the Commissioner of Agriculture, Kent Leonhardt. He was able to give us a lot of insight on issues at hand and important changes to come.

Supervised Agricultural Experiences, SAEs, are agricultural experiences that members are required to have. They can range anywhere from raising a steer for the local fair to owning your own lawn care business to volunteering at a veterinary clinic to working at a local greenhouse and infinitely more. This gives the students the ability to pursue a field of agriculture they have a passion for in this form, which helps to get more hands-on learning and real-life experiences.

Community service is also a big part of FFA, especially in the Tyler FFA. It is a good way to apply leadership skills along with doing good for and giving back to the community. The Chapter hosts and participates in many community service activities throughout the year. One of the main community service activities being the annual regional meeting that the Tyler FFA hosts. Each chapter from the region donates food items to put in the food baskets and assemble them to give to the less fortunate.

FFA means something different to every student, but it has the same goals and intentions for all members of the organization. FFA is an amazing organization with so many opportunities for the students involved. It is where they can better their leadership and career developing skills to prepare them for their futures. I would encourage any student to strive to become active FFA members.

The Future of Agriculture

By: Brody Seckman

The future of agriculture is a topic many people do not think twice about. People worry about their jobs, the stock market, gas inflation, but never take time to really think about what is happening to the industry that their next meal is coming from. Although there are concerns for upcoming difficulties for agriculturists, the future is bright and holds plenty of potential for the industry that feeds us all.

With technology advancing, it is expected that within the next thirty years scientist will be able to mutate and edit crop DNA, so it provides variety for U.S. consumers. Currently there are some genetically modified crops within the United States that allow plants to be more resistant to threats such as disease. Tractors, plows, combines, planters, and other farm equipment utilize continued advancements such as GPS. This allows equipment to recognize patterns and duplicate actions while in the field.

There is an expectation that farmers will need to increase food production by 68 percent by 2050. With that, it is expected that in 2040 the agriculture business will decrease from 3 million farmers in the United States down to only 1.5 million, but still use the same amount of land. The average age of the American farmer is 60 years old. The average age for a farmer in West Virginia is 57. We are not only losing farmers. There is a mass shortage of agriculture teachers in the country as well. Agriculture teachers can inspire future generations of students to enter an agriculture related field. Teaching the future of our nation how important this industry is will impact the outlook of food production in America. If we can educate the importance of agriculture, it might especially help the population of the farming community rise.

As population increases, a major issue that also arises is the fight for land and resources. Who should occupy space, housing developments or farms? People need places to live, but we also need land to grow crops and raise animals. Most U.S. citizens are three generations removed from agriculture. They are unsure of where their food comes from. As the years go on more controversy about land use, possible agricultural laws, and people who do not support the agriculture industry can continue to threaten and add stress to those producing our food.

Another constant threat to agriculture is weather patterns. Agriculture is one of the only industries directly impacted by the weather. Maintaining healthy soil in everchanging weather is a task agriculturists have been juggling for many years. Topsoil erosion happens due to high winds and excessive or inadequate levels of water. Our soil for farming is just as important as drinking clean water and breathing fresh air. Without having proper topsoil for crops to grow in can impact the quality and amount of food produced. This impacts farmers’ sales which can cause their businesses to struggle. Continued research from land grant universities such as, West Virginia University, enables farmers to implement soil management practices to improve soil health. Soil is a natural resource that can be managed to continue to help provide food for the ever-growing population.

Agriculture challenges are not only here in the United States. The whole world experiences these problems. There are big dreams for the future of agriculture, not only for America, but all over the world. With that, developing solutions to the global issues need to be addressed so we can keep the future of agriculture strong.


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