Overcoming The Stereotype

As our first chapter of the week article starts out, we start with one close to the Everything Agriculture team. This week is the Watauga FFA Chapter located in Boone, North Carolina. Watauga FFA was started back in 1965 after the combination of multiple high schools in the county. The reason Watauga is being featured this week is due to their outstanding meeting focal point. The objective of the meeting was to dismember the idea of the “FFA stereotype.”

While Watauga is based in the city that holds Appalachian State University, the culture of the school is very diverse. From people coming from the edge of Tennessee to people from the historical Blowing Rock, there are all different types of students that attend the school. With diversity also comes stereotypes. If you’re a part of this club you are set to fit the cookie cutter image of what most people picture a member of that club to be. For Watauga FFA that image is the “redneck, or country kid”.  I’m sure that most chapters are stuck with this title because, when people hear FFA the only word they seem to comprehend is farmer. What sets Watauga apart from other chapters is how they chose to handle the stereotype.

The meeting started out with students drawing what they thought an FFA member looked like. As you can imagine that was the “farmer standing out in a field, or a redneck with boots and overalls.” (Watauga was sure to stress that these are members of The National FFA Organization, but they do not make up the entirety.) Continuing with the meeting, officers presented North Carolina FFA members from around the state. At State Leadership Conference they selected a few members varying from around the state to interview them so that they could show their chapter that not everyone fits the “FFA stereotype.” The ending of the event included a section of past national officer; Joenelle Futrell’s retiring address. She states that anyone can wear the blue jacket. With using that as the backbone, Watauga found a creative way to show whether you wear a jersey, or a band uniform there is something for you in the FFA.

Hopefully, what members got from the presentation is when they encounter the “You’re in FFA, so you want to be a farmer,” they can have the valid response of “That’s just the stereotype, come to a meeting and see the real thing.” Whether we realize it or not everyone is stereotyped. Each one of us is put into the mold that we are supposed to fit. Some may conform to the mold that they are given, but there are people who don’t want to fit the mold. These are the people looking for a change, they are the ones that break the mold and pave the road for others that don’t fit the stereotype. Watauga FFA is full of these people.

-Lisandra Mejia, Everything Agriculture Vice President/ Editor


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