Continuing a Cass Family Legacy
on Thursday, February 1, 2024
The National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Organization is committed to “growing the next generation of leaders who will change the world.” The organization is a staple in rural American, and like MEC, it helps create vibrant, relevant, sustainable rural communities.
MEC Lineman Marty was a member in his youth and, as an adult, has mentored FFA kids for years. Now, he’s had the chance to watch his own children carry on the family tradition. We recently chatted with Marty and his son Austin about their experiences with FFA and the impact it has on our communities.
Looking to the Past…
In keeping with the theme of heritage, Austin initially joined because of his father’s history with FFA. Marty was a member for six years during his school days and was an elected state officer.
“It felt natural to get involved,” Austin said.
…to Plan for the Future
Austin said in the nearly eight years since he joined, he’d had opportunities and developed skills that he wouldn’t have thought possible. These included leadership training, public speaking engagements, and agriculture workshops. In one memorable instance, the National FFA Organization, along with many of its state officers from around the country, partnered with the city of Indianapolis to eliminate invasive species of weeds and brush from a riverside. One of the officers that day was Austin, serving in an elected leadership role with a confidence he never could have imagined before joining FFA.
Like his dad, Austin was elected to state office. Between March 2022 and July 2023, he served as the Region 1 State Vice President, acting as an advocate for FFA by speaking with reporters and potential organization supporters at their farms. He also got to lead agricultural and leadership workshops at high schools across America.
Joining the FFA community was invaluable, Austin said, not just for him, but for every other member who had honed their leadership and social skills and built a sense of community alongside him.
“I’ve seen the change in almost every single student that I’ve been able to interact with,” he said.
As for Marty, he said watching Austin go through the program has not only been impressive in its own right, but has helped him understand how much his own FFA experience affected his life.
“When I went through, I didn’t think anything of it,” Marty said, “But watching Austin, I fully realized what the potential was.”
Austin’s final months with FFA will be in early 2024. Once he’s completed his time with the program, he plans to carry the skills he’s learned into his next adventure, whatever that may be. While he’s considering joining the Michigan State Police Department’s Trooper Recruit School, one thing is certain. He wants to stay in touch with his rural roots, using his skills to enrich his rural community—just like his dad before him.
To join FFA, a student must be enrolled in an agricultural course at their school. Interested students can contact their school counselor or agriculture teacher to enroll in an agricultural education program and join FFA.
For more information about joining, call the National FFA Organization at 888-332-2668 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.