SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) announced June 21 that Future Farmers of America (FFA) dues for every student taking agriculture education classes across the state will be covered starting this fall. The $550,000 appropriation is spearheaded by State Senator Doris Turner.
FFA is a national organization for young adults interested in leadership and agriculture. It has been a priority of the Pritzker administration to make farming and agriculture more accessible, and these dollars help to diversify the make-up of the FFA organization.
The elimination of dues makes Illinois an FFA affiliation membership state, ensuring every student that is enrolled in agricultural education will have FFA membership dues automatically paid, making them an FFA member.
“In Illinois, we’re making it so students can choose their extracurriculars based on what interests them the most, not what they can afford,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “It’s been a priority of mine to make agricultural education more accessible and widely recognized throughout my administration. It’s why I signed into law two measures to include ag classes in our state college admission requirements, and it’s why I’m proud to implement Senator Doris Turner’s initiative to waive FFA membership fees for all Illinois students.”
“I am proud to support the next generation of Illinois agricultural enthusiasts by helping alleviate the financial burden of membership dues,” State Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield) said. “The more bright minds we can bring in to help solve the agricultural problems of tomorrow, the better we all will be in the future.”
“In 2022, nearly 37,000 students across the state were enrolled in ag classes, but the state’s FFA membership was 23,000 members,” said IDOA Director Jerry Costello. “By removing the cost barrier, this opens up the doors for thousands more students to benefit from what FFA provides, which goes well beyond what can be taught in the classroom.”
“This news couldn’t come at a better time,” said Illinois FFA Executive Director Mindy Bunselmeyer. “Illinois’ number one industry touches so many beyond traditional family farms. FFA continues to expand its mission to prepare our Ag leaders for tomorrow. To announce before students prepare to enter school allows even more future leaders to join our ranks. To have Director Costello share the news with our FFA convention attendees and their families was a great capstone to our week.”
In 2021, Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 3218 and Senate Bill 1624, two measures that add “agriculture education” to the list of acceptable electives that qualify a student for admission to state universities, and “agricultural sciences” to the list of acceptable science courses for admission. The FFA agriculture education program is for students in 7th-12th grade. Currently, over 350 schools across Illinois have a FFA chapter.
— Illinois Department of Agriculture