Thursday, February 21, 2013

Saluting the Blue and Gold

We thought the following statistics were quite enlightening as we continue to celebrate National FFA Week.

Today, there are 557,318 FFA members, aged 12‒21, in 7,498 chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • 44% of FFA members are female; women hold approximately 50% of state leadership positions.
  • 73% of our membership is White; 15% is Hispanic/Latino; 7% is Black/African-American; 5% is American Indian, Asian or Pacific Islander.
  • 9% of FFA members are currently enrolled in grades 6-8; 87% of FFA members are currently enrolled in grades 9-12; 4% have already graduated from high school and may be engaged in postsecondary studies.
  • FFA chapters are in 18 of the 20 largest U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.
  • The top five membership states are Texas, California, Georgia, Missouri and Oklahoma.
  • The 2012 National FFA Convention was host to 56,167 members, FFA advisors and FFA supporters.
  • 2010-11 National FFA Organization membership by states: (English) (Spanish)
More than 11,000 FFA advisors and agriculture teachers deliver an integrated model of agricultural education providing students with innovative and leading-edge education, enabling them to grow into competent leaders.
  •  92% offer agriscience; 71% offer advanced agriscience and biotechnology; 59% offer agricultural mechanics; 49% offer horticulture; 43% offer animal science; and 24% offer environment-related
  • In 2001, 59% of qualified agricultural education graduates pursued teaching, 35 agriculture programs closed due to lack of qualified teachers and 365 agriculture teachers teach in more than one school
  • 23% of teachers have five or fewer years of teaching experience
  • The shortage of qualified agriculture teachers is the greatest challenge facing FFA and agricultural education
FFA classroom activities include math and science as well as hands-on work experience and the development of life skills, helping members discover their career path and realize success.
  • Collectively, FFA members earn more than $4 billion annually through their hands-on work experience.
  • Members participate and learn advanced career skills in 47 national proficiency areas based on their hands-on work experiences ranging from agricultural communications and food science and technology to turf grass management and wildlife production and management.
  • According to the student magazine readership study, 87% of our students are interested in learning about career exploration, 81% about college preparation and 81% about technology. 
  • Through 24 national career development events and one activity, FFA members are challenged to real-life, hands-on tests of skills used to prepare them for more than 300 careers in the agriculture industry.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Learning the cooperative structure involves more than just agriculture

By Kerry Watson, Communications Specialist

Lane Allison, Seed Logistics Coordinator for MKC, was selected to join other students from across the nation to learn how cooperative businesses operate for the benefit of their customers. Students participated in the NFU College Conference on Cooperatives, sponsored by the CHS Foundation, CoBank, Farmers Union Industries Foundation, National Farmers Union (NFU) Foundation and others.  The event focused on how and why cooperatives succeed in America's competitive business environment.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Planting seeds of opportunity

By Kerry Watson, Communications Specialist

Standing in front of an assembly of grade school students, (Goessel) USD 411 Superintendent and Principal, John Fast, slipped on a pair of worn out gloves and mentioned he was looking forward to warmer weather because he had been bitten by a bug. 

Students soon found out that it was a gardening bug, not termites or the flu bug as some had guessed, that bit Superintendent Fast and that MKC was donating $500 to help offset costs of the school’s garden program.

Kerry Watson, Communications Specialist for MKC, was on hand to make the presentation to the assembly.

“A large portion of our donations go towards programs that promote ag education, alleviate hunger, develop the leadership skills of youth and improve community safety,” stated Watson.  The school garden is a great opportunity for MKC to donate to as it ties in nicely with two components of our donation program.
The garden program was started two years ago when the school received a grant from the state department of education.  The school’s garden was one the first five garden projects in the state of Kansas started that year.

Fast commented that the garden has created a renewed sense of enthusiasm. “Since starting the garden, students have been very excited learning about agriculture, science, nutrition and cooperative learning,” stated Fast. “They enjoy the chance to work in the garden.”

A curriculum has been incorporated with the garden project and includes weekly lessons that are 20 to 30 minutes each for students K through fifth grade.  The Agricultural Education classes help teach the students by inviting them to help start the plantings in the greenhouse.  In addition, students learn to recycle plant and garden refuse in the compost pile. Fast added that several lessons in their curriculum involve visiting farms and dairies so that the students can get a better understanding of how food is raised on a large scale production.  

MKC’s donation will pay for the garden project’s new coordinator, Pam Abrahams.  An avid gardener herself, Abrahams commented that it was important to her that the students have an opportunity to grow their own food. “I think all children should experience the joy and wonder of digging in dirt and watching the seeds they helped to plant grow,” she said.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Employee success leads to customer success

Dale Leikam with Leikam AgroMax facilitates the work-
shop, "ManagingNutrients in Modern Production Systems"
 to MKC employees.

By Kerry Watson, Communications Specialist

Challenges associated with the changing nature of agriculture and the workplace environment are as real for MKC as they are for any other business.  These changes require ongoing development and educational opportunities to insure MKC has the skilled and knowledgeable workforce needed to help our customers succeed.

“Our employees are our most important asset,” states Brett Myers, Director of Human Resources and Development for MKC.  “We want to give them every opportunity we can to help them excel.”

According to Myers, MKC offers more than 40 development programs throughout the year.

 The most recent program, a workshop on soil sampling, plant tissue analysis and soil and crop nutrients was attended by more than 20 employees including Matt Porter, Location Manager. 

Porter commented that the program was a great source for him to further his knowledge about a variety of agronomic topics that will help him succeed in his job.

“I feel that educational classes like this help MKC employees to be more successful in their job,” stated Porter. “It’s important that we stay on top of the latest technologies, products and changes going on in the industry so that we are better equipped to help our customers succeed.”