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Lahainaluna senior travels to Washington, D.C., for 2019 State Officer Summit

By Staff | Aug 29, 2019

Sabrina Holcom (right) and other FFA state officers traveled to Washington, D.C., in July to advocate for agriculture.

LAHAINA – Sabrina Holcom, a senior at Lahainaluna High School who is currently serving as Hawaii’s state reporter for Future Farmers of America (FFA), participated in the 2019 State Officer Summit from July 20-26 in Washington, D.C.

The summit is a three-day advocacy training experience. Training focused on serving as an advocate for agriculture as well as developing clear and consistent messages related to agriculture and National FFA.

“What better way to learn about how to be an advocate for agriculture then to have Washington, D.C., the home and heart of our country, to be the classroom for 375 state officers across the country,” said Holcom.

The officers had an opportunity to put these new skills to the test by advocating for National FFA on Capitol Hill.

Hawaii’s state officers spoke with the staff of Sen. Brian Schatz, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Rep. Ed Case.

The officers discussed national issues, such as establishing a national student activities coordinator in the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Labor (after getting a position in the USDA), and creating a workforce pipeline to prepare students for careers and give them more options.

State priorities were also discussed during these meetings. Last year, Hawaii FFA members took it to state lawmakers to push the P-20 Bill, which provides a student activities coordinator for agriculture at the state level.

Another state priority is reinsuiting Career & Technical Education training programs, for teachers to be certified to educate students about agriculture in Hawaii.

Over the years, Hawaii has lost valuable natural resources programs due to a lack of qualified teachers for these positions, Holcom noted.

“For the week that I spent in Washington, D.C., I learned about advocacy – how an individual voice can start a ripple of change, but a united front can turn those ripples into waves. I discovered lifelong friendships and everlasting connections that I will surely hold dear. I reinvented myself to better serve my community and my state FFA association,” she said.

“As state officers, we want to not only reach the FFA members within our state but the community and state as a whole. Our duty is to advocate for agriculture and be the guiding forces to shift the narrative of what agriculture means in Hawaii – to bring attention to how truly important agriculture is, to both our future and our past.”

If you are interested in joining FFA at Lahainaluna or starting an FFA chapter at your own school, contact Keith Ideoka, Natural Resources teacher and Lahainaluna FFA advisor, at keith_ideoka@notes.k12.hi.us, or Holcom at sabrinaholcom@gmail.com.