• by Paul Slocumb •

Sul Ross State University Agricultural Education students welcomed more than 100 area high school freshmen to Alpine for an FFA Greenhand Leadership Conference event on Monday, Sept. 10.  The visit provided the freshmen, who are new to FFA, the opportunity to take part in leadership and team building events with assistance from the Ag Ed Lobos.  Big Bend District FFA officers from area high schools also took part in the activities at SRSU’s Everett E. Turner Range and Animal Science Center.

As a youth organization, FFA’s goal is to use agricultural education to help students develop leadership and other career-enhancing skills, according to Associate Professor of Agricultural Education and chair of SRSU’s Department of Animal Science Dr. Chris Estepp.

“Research has shown that active FFA members tend to be very involved in leadership roles once they graduate high school,” noted Estepp whose “Principles of Agricultural Leadership” students ran the event.  “Some of the skills high school students develop while in FFA are public speaking, critical thinking, problem solving, and organizational skills.  They learn the basics of running meetings using parliamentary procedure, and they also develop a good understanding of budgeting and finance through supervised agricultural experiences.”

Estepp added that events like the FFA Greenhand Leadership Conference are also helpful for Sul Ross students who will soon be taking on similar leadership roles as high school agricultural science teachers.

“This is good for our Ag Ed students because they get to learn how these events are organized.  Additionally, they get the opportunity to work with high school students in a controlled environment, where they can learn skills that will help them become future FFA advisors.”

One of the Sul Ross students helping organize the day’s activities was Alejandra Camarillo, a freshman animal science major with an agricultural education concentration.  Camarillo was involved in the same event last year as an FFA district officer from Iraan High School, and her positive experience was one of the reasons she chose to attend Sul Ross.

“As a high school district officer, I saw how involved the Sul Ross instructors were with helping the FFA students and that impressed me,” she said.  “And the event really sparked my love of FFA because it got me more involved.   I’ve made lifelong friends that I wouldn’t have made otherwise.”

Camarillo added that being involved with the same FFA event, but now as a Sul Ross student, has helped her decide on a future career in Agricultural Education.

For more information about Sul Ross Ag Ed and future FFA events on campus, contact Estepp at (432) 837-8210 or cestepp@sulross.edu.