[Image: Kathy Conerly]
News Release Distributed 07/29/14
BATON ROUGE, La. – Kathy Conerly has been named executive secretary of Louisiana FFA. In her new position, she hopes to expand programs and use FFA to promote agriculture to Louisiana's next generation.
Conerly succeeds Ronald Mayeux, who passed away in April and was the executive secretary for seven years. FFA is affiliated with both the LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture.
Conerly holds bachelor's degrees in horticulture and agricultural education and a master's degree in agricultural education, all from LSU. She taught agriculture for more than 30 years at Zachary High School.
FFA has great potential for growth in Louisiana, Conerly said. Many school officials are interested in improving or even starting agriculture programs, she said, because they provide unique experiential learning and career development opportunities. High school agriculture curricula cover a wide range of topics, exposing young people to career opportunities from agribusiness to veterinary science.
High schoolers enrolled in agriculture programs can join FFA, which is a national organization that promotes leadership and career development. FFA participants can attend conferences and compete for awards. They also work on Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs), which are projects or, sometimes, internships in an agriculture-related business or organization.
Together, FFA, SAEs and agriculture courses provide young people with a scientific background as well as skills like public speaking and professionalism, Conerly said. That kind of experience is crucial today as the agriculture industry works to improve sustainability and meet increasing world demands.
"Students need to be aware of how important agriculture is to Louisiana, their lives and the economy," Conerly said.
While technology has provided teachers with valuable new tools, it has also led to more indoor time for students with fewer outdoor experiences. By ensuring FFA offers a variety of hands-on experiences in agriculture, Conerly believes the organization can give students the knowledge they need to enjoy successful careers and help the industry grow.