Story by Jordan Dunn, Associate Editor
“I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds…” These famous words, written by E. M. Tiffany in 1930, have been an inspiration for thousands of high school students across America to get involved in the National FFA Organization. For me, the FFA Creed has been a symbol of a family legacy that I am honored to be a part of.
As of November 2, 2013, I am the 4th generation of my family to be awarded with the American FFA Degree. Seeing that less than 1% of FFA members in the entire nation receive the degree, I find it to be amazing that myself, my mother, her father (my grandfather), and his father (my great-grandfather) have all reached the highest level of membership in the National FFA Organization.
Receiving my American FFA Degree.
It all began with my great-grandfather, Jim Rowley, and his swine project in the Visalia FFA Chapter. He was a true agriculturist at heart, which came through in his project. In high school he raised show hogs, but a few years after graduating, he was able to start and run his own dairy operation. At the time, my grandfather, Bill Rowley, was four years old.
Jim Rowley, my great-grandfather, and his FFA show hogs.
My grandfather followed in his dad’s footsteps by having an FFA project that developed into a lifestyle. After my grandfather received his American FFA Degree, he took over his father’s dairy. My family has now owned dairy cattle for over 60 years, due to the hard work that each generation has put in.
Bill Rowley, my grandfather, featured in the Visalia Times Delta newspaper for his FFA achievements.
My mother was next in line to receive her degree. She was also very involved in raising, showing, and breeding dairy cattle. Her dairy project took her to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she majored in Dairy Science. She then went on to run her own dairy, becoming the third generation to do so.
My mother, Leslie Gardner, receiving her American FFA Degree in 1989.
Although I do not plan on directly following in the footsteps of my family by managing my own herd of dairy cows, I am able to understand the amazing lessons that have been passed down from generation to generation in my family. With my dairy project in FFA, I was a part of my family tradition that led me on the path towards my American FFA Degree.
The American FFA Degree is a symbol of dedication. It is a way to show other industry professionals that you were so dedicated to your project, that you worked as hard as possible to make it the best that it could be. This determination to succeed is what you can find in any American FFA Degree recipient. Now that I have been awarded with the degree, I can say that it is truly an honor to be apart of that small percentage of distinguished FFA members.
I can honestly say that I too believe in the future of agriculture.