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FFA sees increasing enrollment, demand in agriculture for skilled jobs


Michigan is seeing a shortage of farmers and farm workers, but the agriscience industry is growing and booming.

Mark Forbush is the Michigan Advisor for what was formerly known as the Future Farmers of America, which now just goes by FFA.

Forbush said Michigan enrollment has seen an all-time high over the last 40 years. There were nearly 9,000 students during the 2019-2020 academic year across the state.

“The reason we're the FFA is because we need to shake the image (a farm) a bit and say we're a lot more than just farming,” Forbush said. “That doesn't mean we want to divorce the production agriculture -- they're the backbone of everything we do, but we don’t need to make hundreds of thousands of farmers.”

Forbush said agriculture has always been an innovator, but now more than ever, the need for people skilled in sciences have an important place in the field.
“We talk about the sciences -- agriculture is the science that's really happening in front of us every day,” Forbush said. “Biology, chemistry, engineering is what we see in the field. We are the definition of STEM before STEM made a definition. They had to give it a label, but we already had it.”
According to Forbush, FFA has opened seven new programs in Michigan. Forbush said program expansion has been made possible with an uptick in agriscience teachers.

This story was produced as part of the Michigan News Group Internship. A collaboration between WCMU and eight community newspapers. Teresa is based at the Huron Daily Tribune, and you can read the full story in the July 15 edition of the Huron Daily Tribune.

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