The National FFA Organization works to strengthen science and agricultural educational opportunities for students across the country. The Texas FFA Association and Texas FFA Foundation are the largest state organizations in the country.
On this episode of the Growing Our Future Podcast, Aaron Alejandro introduces Benita Hodge, Survey Administrator at the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), a part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and first female African American to earn the prestigious American FFA Degree. Her continued work with FFA helps students and teachers understand the wide range of careers in agriculture, and inspires future leaders to go after what they love.
Listen to the full episode with host Aaron Alejandro and Benita Hodge here.
“A Place For Everyone”
Benita Hodge knew early on that she had an affinity for the natural world. In the rural area of Texas where she grew up, she spent time with her grandparents caring for what she calls a “small acreage.” When she sought out her high school’s FFA chapter, Hodge felt an immediate sense of belonging. “I learned that even though I did not grow up on a farm or ranch, there was still a place for me in agriculture and the FFA,” Hodge says.
Hodge “Jumped in” to FFA immediately. Connecting with her Ag teachers in horticulture and animal sciences, competing at national events, and joining a professional network made up of producers, engineers, educators, and more led Hodge to discover her passion for statistics. According to Hodge, the “accountability, responsibility, professionalism and leadership” skills she gained in FFA gave her a competitive edge. A series of strategic internships led her to her first job at the USDA, where she has worked ever since.
“Not everybody gets to be a first,” Alejandro says. Indeed, Hodge is proud to be the first female African American to earn the prestigious American FFA Degree. Still, achieving that…