Secretary Arne Duncan Delivers Keynote Address at FFA Convention

Secretary Arne Duncan Delivers Keynote Address at FFA ConventionU.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered a powerful message filled with optimism in the power of education to lift the human spirit, to broaden horizons, and to bridge differences on Thursday, Oct. 21, at the 83rd annual National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.

When speaking to a crowd of more than 14,000 packed into the Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the NBA’s Indianapolis Pacers, Secretary Duncan said he was “blown away” by how impressive the FFA students are and that he was so hopeful because of their leadership in schools and communities across the nation.  He told the audience that agricultural education is central to the future of American prosperity.

He told the FFA students that “America needs you. We need you to exponentially expand the number of entrepreneurs, scientists, great teachers, and school leaders in your own communities. Rural America needs you to become the next generation of agriculture industry leaders, who not only perfect sustainable agriculture but grow sustainable rural communities.”  (See the text of the Secretary’s remarks, photos, and video from the convention.)

Officials from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, Cheryl Cook, highlighted the FFA’s entrepreneurial spirit at Friday morning’s Agri-Entrepreneur Awards Breakfast at The Westin Indianapolis.

Former FFA member Neil Mylet welcomed the honorees and described his work on a family farm in Camden, Indianapolis, and his innovations as the CEO of LoadOut Technologies. Mylet developed and brought to market a new iPhone app that allows truck drivers to safely monitor and control grain loading.

Mylet created the app because he has allergies.  With the application farmers can now be safe from inhaling dust or debris.  One of the other benefits is efficiency. It eliminates the driver from having to disembark the cab. All they have to do is hit start and the grain begins flowing and they can monitor it until the truck is loaded.

Dustin Stanton, a current FFA member and senior at Centralia R-IVI High School in Centralia, Missouri, received an award at the breakfast for growing his egg business. Stanton described his entrepreneurial journey from an initially unsuccessful attempt to raise chickens to operating a business today that produces 700 dozen eggs each week for local businesses, nursing homes, and several grocery stores.

The U.S. Department of Education supports the National FFA and many other Career and Technical Student Organizations through its Office of Vocational and Adult Education, http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/cte/vso.html.

John White
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach
U.S. Department of Education