(Jefferson City, MO)— Twenty-eight high school seniors from across Missouri completed the eighth annual Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence (HYPE) FFA Academy June 28-30 in Jefferson City, Mo. The three-day academy is designed to inform and empower agriculture students to effectively engage in issues impacting Missouri farmers. It was sponsored by the MissouriCorn Merchandising Council.
“The students involved in agriculture education represent the future of our industry,” noted MCMC Chairman Clint Stephens of Advance. “We are proud to support this effort to give them the skills, knowledge, and confidence necessary to advocate effectively. As growers, we know the growing importance of becoming actively involved beyond the farm and the vital role our voice plays in determining policy and regulations which impact all of Missouri agriculture. These students will be ready to hit the ground running as they look to advance their education and become active members of the agriculture industry.”
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, social media influencers, and Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer on how to effectively advocate on issues. The group also toured the Missouri Soybean Center of Innovation to learn more about the advancements and research being done on behalf of farmers.
Wrapping up the academy, participants put their skills into action during mock legislative hearings at the Missouri State Capitol. Students presented key issues to Missouri Sen. Mike Bernskoetter and State Reps. Rusty Black, Kurtis Gregory, Emily Weber, Kent Haden, Louis Riggs, Willard Haley, and Peggy McGaugh. Students also had the chance to meet with Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn.
“This program is unique in that it gives participants tools that they can use in college, in their careers, and in their everyday lives,” said Dakota Pemberton, a two-year team leader of the program. “Over the three-day period, we really challenge them to sharpen their critical thinking and look beyond how an issue impacts them directly to see the bigger picture.
“By the end, they’ve grown as individuals, as team members, and have the ability to use both facts and emotions when telling their stories and advocating on behalf of agricul-ture. Not to mention the confidence and knowledge gained by successfully defending their position to legislators.”
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. Learn more at www.mocorn.org. 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. Learn more about HYPE by contacting Missouri Corn Associate Director of Communications Hilary Black at email@example.com.