Young South Dakota ag leaders learn and educate in Washington

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Future Farmers of America are in Washington this week in hopes of harvesting knowledge for South Dakota. They say they hope their trip will strengthen the state’s agricultural roots for generations.

Marie Robbins says she wants to learn how to become an advocate for farmers in her state.

These students just graduated high school, but they are in Washington this week with sights set on the future of agriculture.

“They’ll hear our ideas and get to know that we care,” said Marie Robbins.

FFA is in Marie’s blood. Both her parents were members. But even as the group’s state secretary, she never expected to represent farm interests in the nation’s capital. Robbins and her peers are learning about the intersection between politics and agriculture, and their first lesson is a practical one: asking lawmakers for more FFA funding.

“One thing I’m really hoping to take away is knowledge of other states’ agriculture. What are some things they do differently and what can we bring to South Dakota?” said Robbins.

Marie says part of the training is learning how to explain to struggling farmers what is being done to help. She and classmate TJ Bigge say they hope to focus more on farming’s potential than the industry’s economic struggles.

“There’s such a big communication aspect of it. That’s really beneficial for us to take back home and share with the members across South Dakota,” said Bigge.

Bigge says he plans to plant himself in the industry. He wants to become an ag teacher after he graduates from South Dakota State University. Tj says he has gathered a wider understanding of the trade this week.

“How it impacts us, how it will impact other states and the world over all is just a really unique experience,” said Bigge.

The FFA group heads back to South Dakota on Thursday.