Why the 2023 Oregon FFA State Convention Helped Restore My Faith in Our Future

Over 2000 students from across the state participated in the FFA Oregon State Convention.
By Mark Buckbee, CHF Board Member

The Oregon Future Farmers of America (FFA) Oregon State Convention was held March 16 -19 at the Deschutes County Fairground in Redmond. Over 2000 students from across the state participated in the event. All of the students wear the navy-blue uniforms with their name embroidered on the front, and school name on the back. They come from Illinois Valley HS to Joseph HS, Clatskanie to Crane. Smaller rural schools are well represented but many urban schools also participate. While the roots of FFA are in agriculture, the program is now very diverse. Students choose to emphasize skill areas such as agricultural mechanics, agronomy, livestock judging, pasture & range management, horticulture, wildlife, floriculture, farm business management, dairy foods, forestry, and many more. But common to all FFA programs is personal skill development in communication skills, meeting management, financial management, professional networking, public speaking, conflict resolution and civic responsibility. At the State Convention, students learn skills and participate in competitions to determine who will represent Oregon FFA at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.

For a second consecutive year, Communities for Healthy Forests was both a financial donor and a displayer at this outstanding youth event. We see the tremendous value of the multiple programs and opportunities offered by FFA. The Forestry and Natural Resource skill areas are of particular interest to us. Our display booth (there are around 60 total) addresses the need for active management of Federal Forests in Oregon to promote healthy and productive forests. We have been able to educate and advocate with many 100s of students, and inform them of the opportunities for employment in forestry and natural resources. And there has been another perk for us! This is an event where we get to engage with hundreds of motivated, interested, and well-mannered young people. As I have told numerous people, the kids at the FFA Convention have renewed my hopes for the future of America!

Mark Buckbee is a retired Federal forester who had a 34-year career with the Bureau of Land Management in western Oregon. He holds a Bachelors degree in Forest Resources Management from SUNY-Syracuse and a Masters degree in Forest Science from Utah State University.

Contact Mark via email at buckbeefamily@msn.com. See more from Communities for Healthy Forests at
www.communitiesforhealthyforests.com or visit the CHF Facebook page.