FFA members head toward convention activities. Photo provided by Tori Sullivan

The 85th National FFA Convention is underway this week in Indianapolis, Indiana.  KMZU student reporter and Carrollton FFA member Tori Sullivan is on the scene sending back reports and even competing in a contest.  Click the links below to hear the latest reports from the convention…

Tina FFA Chapter – Shelby Trussel

FFA Tina – Shelby Trussel

Polo FFA – Sidney Copeland

FFA Polo – Sidney Copeland

Orrick FFA – Kendall Kelly

FFA Orrick – Kendal Kelly

Hardin FFA – Thomas McCorkindale

FFA Hardin – Thomas McCorkindale (2)

Norborne – Kaley Wood

FFA Norborne – Kaley Wood

From California to North Carolina and everywhere between, FFA is on the grow.

During the 2011-12 school year, 16,939 students joined FFA and raised the organization’s total membership to 557,318 students in grades seven through 12 in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

“Interest in agricultural education continues to grow due to the hard work, dedication and commitment agriculture teachers and state FFA leaders have toward developing our members for the future,” said National FFA Organization CEO Dwight Armstrong. “Our members are developing skills through educational and real-world experiences that will ideally position them to pursue one of more than 300 careers in agriculture.”

Demographically, Texas added more members than any other state last year, growing to 86,482 students. Trailing Texas was Georgia, Colorado, Delaware and Arizona.

Texas also leads the list of the top five largest FFA membership states, followed by California (70,683), Georgia (32,244), Missouri (25,748) and Oklahoma (24,364). Nine of the 10 largest FFA chapters are in California high schools in Fresno, Sacramento, Hanford, Woodland, Atwater, Tulare, Madera, Romoland and Clovis.

FFA chapters were in 18 of the 20 largest U.S. cities last year, including New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia.

“Through my travels this year, I have been quite impressed by the passion that agriculture teachers exude toward their students,” said National FFA President Ryan Best. “They’re working hard every hour in the classroom to fully develop FFA members’ potential for future personal and career success.”

Founded in 1928, the National FFA Organization is an integral part of agricultural education by helping make classroom instruction come to life through realistic, hands-on applications. FFA members embrace concepts taught in agricultural science classrooms nationwide, build valuable skills through hands-on experiential learning and each year demonstrate their proficiency in competitions based on real-world agricultural skills.

FFA operates on local, state and national levels. Student members belong to chapters organized at the local school level. Agriculture educators serve as chapter advisors. Chapters are organized under state associations headed by an advisor and executive secretary, often employees of the state department of education. States conduct programs and host annual conventions.

There are 7,498 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.