Thursday, July 3, 2014

Future Farmers of Korea!

Prior to this trip, I had never heard of the FFK (Future Farmers of Korea). I consider myself to be an all out FFA nerd, and was extremely excited to hear that we would be meeting with representatives of the FFK!

I had the fortunate opportunity to meet with FFJ (Future Farmers of Japan) students while at National FFA Convention this past fall, and it totally made my student's day. They didn't realize that the FFJ existed, and were elated to hear that other countries around the world had an organization similar to ours.

When I was in FFA in high school, I had heard of a Future Farmer Organization in Bosnia and read about the FFJ in the New Horizons Magazine, but never of any others.

      My students at National FFA Convention 2013, ELATED to meet the FFJ!!

So, when our group traveled to Korea, I was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to meet with the FFK. This past Friday, we finally got to learn about FFK!  During our lesson presentation earlier in the week we talked to students about FFK, and it turned out that the Suwon FFK Chapter President was in our class, which was really cool.   I thought that since school was currently in session that we would have a presentation on FFK from student members, but it ended up that teachers and FFK staff presented to us instead. We got to watch a presentation about the basics of FFK, and also ask questions about it at the end.  Here's some of the highlights of the presentation:

-All agriscience students can be members of the FFK, pending that they pay their annual dues of 3,500 Won (about $3.50).

-Upon paying membership dues, students receive their membership pin and a newsletter.

-Students can participate in regional and national skill competitions.  These include baking, landscape design work, and floral arranging, among many others.

-There are 71 schools that offer FFK as an option for students to be involved in.  These 71 schools are grouped into "chapters", with 14 chapters total. In the FFA, a chapter is located at the local level, with each high school or middle school having their own chapter. When we asked for clarification of the 14 chapters, it sounded as though they were regional groupings, like our FFA state associations. These chapters are formed based on membership, so some chapters are located around cities and only include students from that area since there is a more dense population, while others are entire provinces. 

-The country is divided into 4 FFK regions, modeled after the FFA regions: Western, Central, Southern, and Eastern. A National Officer Team exists, and is comprised of a National President, and 4 Regional Vice Presidents, one for each region. Th National President can only be elected from the previous year's Regional Vice Presidents.  This year's National FFK President is only a Junior in high school!

-The National FFK Convention rotates its location each year, with various high schools around the country hosting it each year.  Suwon High School for Agricultural Sciences will be hosting it this coming September. 

-The National Convention attracts about 1,000 students and has 2 major parts:
  1. Skill competitions & Election of Officer
  2. Entertainment
  We got to see a highlights video of their National Convention and these students really get into the fun they have! We saw a wide variety of talent displayed, and part of one of the most popular contests, the Golden Bell.  This is basically a survival quiz about various agricultural knowledge and students compete individually, writing their answers on a hand held white board. If they get a question wrong, they are knocked out and the last student standing wins.

-There is no official dress, but at National FFK Convention, students wear polo shirts representing their chapter or school. 

                                         We were all given our very own FFK membership pins!!

I was also really interested in learning about the FFK emblem.  Our FFA emblem is steeped in tradition and symbolism so I was curious to see if the FFK was the same. It seems there is some symbolism, but som of it is unclear. The 2 dots at the top of the emblem represent the eyes of leadership and the flower-like design below the dots represent the creative energy of the youth.  From what I could gather, their colors were green and gold. 
                                             Clearly, I am stoked to be learning about the FFK!

We asked our presenters what they felt the biggest challenge for FFK was.  We found that they battle similar stereotypes that we sometimes do in the US, regarding the image of an agricultural life and career.  Many students in Korea don't necessarily find agriculture an appealing industry to work in because they don't think it has prestige and is a lot of hard work. FFK is working to change that by offering a more diverse array of activities to help develop leadership. I'd say that we as FFA members and advisors, we also are continuously presenting ourselves in a variety of formats to reach a more diverse array of students. I was impressed to hear that the FFK boasts a national membership of 22,994 members! Along with all of the leadership opportunities and skill development events, FFK members are also given the opportunity to work with a mentor farmer, ones that are considered innovative.  What a great way to involve the industry by pushing your bright stars into the careful guidance of those who are currently leading the way in agriculture!

I think it would be so cool to have a partnership with FFK and FFA. I also learned that there is a Future Farmers of Thailand too! Think of all the opportunity that our students could have by developing a cooperative relationship with these other parallel student organizations. 

If you would like to learn more about the FFK, check out their website.  I especially like their Creed, which is very similar to the FFA Creed.  Check it out!

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