INDIANAPOLIS — In 2018, Microsoft and National FFA partnered together to begin bringing technology to classrooms for students to address agricultural challenges. In 2019, that partnership has blossomed, and today the two are working together to bridge the digital skills gap and reach more than 100,000 students in the next three years.
Through the partnership, students are being prepared for tech-focused jobs in food and agriculture. This week, that partnership can be seen first-hand during the 2019 National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis.
Students will have the opportunity to see and experience the convergence of agriculture, technology, human health, engineering and more at the FFA Blue Room as part of the FFA Blue 365 initiative. This initiative connects members to experiential learning in innovative technologies. It also provides agricultural education teachers 24/7 access to resources and lesson plans that showcase cutting-edge solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.
“Today’s young leaders are passionate about addressing many of the challenges facing our planet, and many of these challenges are connected to agriculture,” says Blaze Currie, team lead for Leadership Development at FFA. “FFA has a great history of helping students become future-ready through the context of agriculture. Our partnership with Microsoft will help us do this with a focus on digital skills – keeping pace with a rapidly growing ag-tech industry.”
As the organizations work together on the future of agriculture, students who attend the convention will be exposed to the careers of the future. At the FFA Blue Room, they will hear from top influencers through TedX-style presentations, such as Ranveer Chandra of Microsoft Research and former FFA member Dr. Gioai Massa with NASA. Startup entrepreneurs will also be on hand to share their innovative ideas. Through the resources at the FFA Blue Room, students will be equipped with new ideas to inspire them to find innovative solutions to tomorrow’s challenges.
While FFA has chapters in both rural and urban areas, the partnership will be particularly impactful in rural public schools, nearly 60 percent of which have an FFA chapter.
In addition to the FFA Blue Room, this past year, students had access to Microsoft FarmBeats Student Kits, which use IoT technologies to help students monitor a variety of indicators such as soil moisture, light and ambient temperature, and to test plants to improve productivity and save resources. All while developing critical thinking and tech skills.
“Technology continues to transform the American economy, and we need a new generation of skills for the next generation of individuals who will drive our most critical industries forward,” said Kate Behncken, vice president and lead of Microsoft Philanthropies. “We value our partnership with the National FFA and the opportunity to help prepare future agriculture leaders with the digital skills and technological savvy they need to participate in the digital economy and manage the farms of the future.”
The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to more than 700,000 student members who belong to one of the more than 8,600 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by more than 8 million alumni and supporters throughout the U.S.
— National FFA Organization
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