Blue Jackets Mean Green for Local Economy

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National FFA Week runs through February 27. National FFA Week runs through February 27.

As National FFA Week begins, Indiana's organization is shining a spotlight on the group's major economic impact on the state. Indiana FFA Secretary Annalee Witte says membership is at a 30-year high, with more than 11,500 members in more than 200 chapters throughout the state. She says members work in areas ranging from farms and floral shops to veterinarian offices and agri-science research facilities, generating an annual economic impact of about $10 million.

National FFA Week runs through February 27. Indiana events this year a Statehouse ceremony, teacher appreciation breakfasts and the "Agriculture Olympics." The organization bills itself as the largest career and technical student organization in Indiana. The group says national membership is on the rise as well. Officials say student membership increased three percent in 2015 to 629,367 students, compared to 610,240 in 2014. The organization says the number of chapters grew from 7,665 in 2014 to 7,757 in 2015.

Witte says one of the biggest benefits provided by FFA for students and the state is its Supervised Agricultural Experience programs. She says the initiative allows students to "find their passion" in the agriculture industry, and create a small business around it, either on their own or with others.

The National FFA Convention, which draws more than 50,000 people from throughout the country, is returning from Louisville to Indianapolis this year. The city has inked a deal with the organization to keep the event in Indianapolis through at least 2024. This year's event runs from October 19-22.

Witte says the FFA is helping Indiana boost its pipeline of future ag leaders.
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