Female membership in FFA grew from 26% during the 1992-93 academic year to 44% during the 2015-16 academic year. Plus, females have risen to top leadership roles, with young women holding five of the six national FFA offices this year.
“Organizations like FFA and 4-H help foster leadership skills for all participants,” said Jenny Heaton, head of talent management for Syngenta, North America. “As more leadership opportunities open up for young women, these experiences should provide them with more confidence that the agricultural world is ready to accept them as equal partners.”
Megan Moll, a Golden Harvest Seed Advisor manager at Syngenta, said FFA helped put her on a path to her agricultural career. As a young girl, she said she loved working on her family’s farm in Michigan. In high school, she became involved in her local FFA chapter by holding different offices and participating in activities, including the National FFA Convention and a leadership conference in Washington, D.C.
“I’m grateful for my FFA experience, because not only did it teach me organizational, team-building and public speaking skills, but it also built my personal confidence to be able to talk in front of a large group of people,” Moll said. “Everything I learned from FFA has helped me become who I am today.”
Similarly, Darcy Maulsby worked on her family’s farm in Lake City, Iowa, and was an active participant in 4-H during her youth, but she said she didn’t think about joining FFA until an agriculture teacher recruited her. Only a few girls were in FFA then, and her experiences proved to be life changing.
“I look back and think, ‘They were really on top of it for giving us an opportunity to do that,’” Maulsby said. “FFA pushed me in new directions and really helped me grow with communication and leadership skills I have used my entire life."
Today, Maulsby operates her own agricultural writing and marketing business on the family farm, where she stays tightly connected to the farm business. She’s also very involved in the Farm Bureau, Iowa Corn Growers and Iowa Soybean Assn.
“There are a lot of smart women out there transforming agriculture, and it’s exciting to see that change,” Maulsby said. “I definitely encourage young women to get involved in agriculture.”