California FFA students returned to Greenhand Leadership Conference in late September through the middle of October. Conference locations were in Bakersfield, Calipatria, Colusa, Fresno, Hanford, Lakeside-El Capitan, Lodi, Menifee-Heritage, Merced, Paso Robles, Petaluma, and Redding. Attendance was capped at 180 students and most of the twenty-eight sessions were at full capacity. Nearly five thousand freshmen participated in the introduction to Agricultural Education and FFA.
The Greenhand Leadership Conference begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. the same day. Six sessions are included. Topics in the morning cover: “Welcome to Your New Beginning!”, “WHO I am,” and “WHY I matter!”
“WHO I am” helps students identify personal interests and characteristics, showing how to translate those interests into their passions and values. “WHY I matter!” builds self-confidence through healthy habits and engaging in conversations of empathy to understand the importance of diversity and inclusion. Before breaking for lunch, small groups are formed with team challenges. The activities build self-confidence for the Freshmen students.
“WHERE we can belong” explores California agriculture and identifies how Agricultural Education creates well rounded individuals through the three-ring model of Classroom & Laboratory (Knowledge), Supervised Agricultural Experience [SAE] (Skill) and the National FFA Organization (Relationships).
The final two sessions are: “HOW we use this,” and “my IMPACT!” “HOW we use this” dives deeper into the circle of FFA to explore Career Development Events (CDE), Leadership Development Events (LDE), Conventions and Conferences. Students create a personal plan of action. Their plan highlights one way they will invest in themselves during high school and two things in Ag Ed, FFA, SAE or the classroom. They will ask their teacher about the two interests after the conference, and they also name three new things they will try in high school. “my IMPACT!” defines servant leadership, examining how to have a positive impact on the community
Last year, the conference curriculum was updated and delivered to agricultural advisors on a virtual platform. Registration was available to each chapter and packaged to fit the modules into agricultural teachers’ class plans and adapt to classroom, hybrid, or distance learning. Over 250 chapters participated in the relaunched freshman program.
Thank you to conference sponsor Farm Credit, for supporting the California FFA students.