GREENSBURG — Farming and Indiana go hand-in-hand. The multi-billion-dollar business of farming is part of the fabric that made Indiana what it is today.

Thanks to a long-standing agriculture presence, Indiana is a staple in the present day structure of the Future Farmers of America and that is visible during National FFA Week, especially in rural county schools across the state. Decatur County was ready to show their pride in farming and agriculture this week - in grand fashion and riding on four really large tires (or more).

On Tuesday and Wednesday, FFA students at North Decatur and South Decatur Jr.-Sr. High Schools took advantage of a unique and rare opportunity on “drive your tractor to school day.” They came one after another, proudly driving their tractors to school.

Farming is a family tradition and the primary livelihood for many students in Decatur County and around Indiana. FFA students relish the opportunity to share their agricultural spirit with those within their schools with numerous activities during the week - especially driving their tractors to school.

South Decatur FFA Director Jacob Mattox explained how the week is special for the FFA students and how it opens the door for opportunity to learn if a student is not involved.

“I think the week provides a great opportunity to simply bring everyone together to learn about agriculture,” Mattox said. “This is especially true during lunch time in the school because it is the one time that we get a chance to talk to people that we normally do not get the chance to talk to. Events like driving tractors to school give us the chance to reach out to the students.”

According to the 2015 State Agriculture overview, farm land accounts for 64 percent of the Hoosier state’s total acreage. A total of 14.7 million acres of farmland is divided throughout Indiana into 57,700 farms. This makes the average farm 255 acres in size.

In Decatur County alone, a total of 610 farms make up 186,528 acres of land.

Over the past decade though, farm numbers have steadily been falling in Indiana. This makes FFA week ever more important in schools across the state.

The average age of a farmer in Indiana has increased to 56.8 years. Less than half of the 610 farms in Decatur County stand as the primary occupation for the family on the land.

Legislators continue to work to find answers through attempts to require high-school level agriculture in Indiana schools. For now, it remains up to the students and organizations like the Future Farmers of America to build interest in the minds of students.

Programs offered during FFA week are doing their work at drawing in the younger generation to become the next farmers and seize opportunities in the broader agriculture industries.

On Wednesday at South Decatur, “most” students that are in the junior high grades came out to admire the tractors and to take a closer look. The opportunity will likely hook many in to taking agriculture classes and taking part in more FFA events in the future.

National FFA Week is Feb. 18-25. This year’s theme is Transform Purpose to Action, and it embraces more than 89 years of FFA traditions while looking forward to the organization’s future. Nearly 650,000 members will participate in National FFA Week activities at local, state and national levels. These members have a passion for agriculture.

Designated a national week in 1948, the week of George Washington’s birthday, National FFA Week runs from Saturday to Saturday and gives FFA members an opportunity to educate the public about agriculture. During the week, chapters conduct a variety of activities to help others in their school and community learn about FFA and agricultural education.

Today’s FFA members are the innovators and leaders of tomorrow. Through agricultural and hands-on learning, they are preparing for 235 unique career opportunities in the food, fiber and natural resources industry. National FFA Week is sponsored by Tractor Supply Company.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 649,355 student members who belong to one of 7,859 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Details about GCHS FFA Week activities will be covered in an upcoming issue of the Daily News.

Contact: James Howell Jr., 812-663-3111 x 7011;

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