FFA Day on “Goat Hill”

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

Recently, four Crenshaw County students joined over 200 blue corduroy jackets at the state’s capital for the annual FFA Day on the Hill. Although FFA was created in 1928 as Future Farmers of America, the name was changed in 1988 to The National FFA Organization to represent the ever changing diversity of agriculture which was vividly apparent during FFA Day on the Hill. 

During the April 18 event on “Goat Hill,” students had the opportunity to interact with elected officials, and be part of the conversation regarding agriculture and education in politics.  They learned about and witnessed first hand part of the political process during this eleventh day of the 2023 regular legislative session in which House of Representative members worked through a calendar of 17 bills. 

Olivia Crawford and Kendal Nichols of the Crenshaw County FFA and Kamryn Ramer and Jhalan Wiley of the Brantley FFA represented Crenshaw County Schools. The students were welcomed by Governor Kay Ivey as they traversed the iconic steps of the Alabama State Capitol. 

According to Ramer, FFA Day on the Hill was a rewarding experience that allowed her and her peers to get an insider’s view of the political process 

“It was really neat to see bills being passed right in front of us while the house was actually in session, especially since they were related to agriculture,” Ramer said. “Seeing our elected officials voting on laws that could actually affect me, as someone that lives on a farm and as the granddaughter of an active farmer, [the visit] really made the whole process real. It really clicked with me that these are just normal people like you and me making the laws that will affect the future.”  

Career Tech director Ashley Catrett said students get to see and strive to continue the standard of hard work and altruism that is so deeply rooted in Crenshaw County. 

“These students, Career Tech students in particular, not only learn technical skills to be applied in the workplace but also the essential soft skills to succeed in everyday life whether they stay in Crenshaw County or continue their education and/or career elsewhere,” Catrett said. “Experiences like FFA Day on the Hill give our students the opportunity to see the lessons they’ve learned in classrooms come to life as they observe the House and Senate in session.”

The students heard from various speakers including Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell, Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen, State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey, Alabama Court of Civil Appeals Judge Christy Edwards, Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham;Rep. Joe Lovvorn, Alabama House District 79; Representative, R-Auburn, and others.

“We’re very pleased to have you all in Montgomery today so you can come to understand a little more about how the state government operates and how it might affect you,” Parnell said. “You all will become the leaders of the future and will be the ones to make the impact. It’s important for you all to understand  that there’s good people down here working hard to move our state forward in today’s time and it is pleasing to see that those of you that will carry the ball soon focus on leadership, civic engagement, and becoming better citizens for the state of Alabama.”

After sharing their thoughts on the importance and future of agriculture and agricultural education in Alabama, each speaker made time for questions and answers.  

FFA members also heard Governor Kay Ivey speak about the importance of Agriculture in the state and beyond. Ms. Ivey also praised the efforts of the FFA members, commending them for their commitment to their local communities. Speaking to students and representatives alike, Governor Ivey reminded everyone of the FFA motto – Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve – stressing the tangible and intangible benefits young FFA members gain from this experience. 

The Goat Hill Gathering is sponsored by the Alabama FFA Foundation and the Alabama Farmers Federation.