The grass is indeed greener with FFA

Agricultural education senior Grant Norfleet thanks the University of Missouri for the opportunities that led him to FFA, an organization he will help lead for the next year.

Welcome, FFA!
Nearly 5,000 high school students from across Missouri are on campus April 17-19 for the FFA Convention. Mizzou is proud to have supported the organization for more than 90 years. 
Grant Norfleet celebrates with his team after accepting his new role as National Secretary of FFA.

April 15, 2024
Contact: Courtney Perrett, 573-882-6217,

When he joined the National FFA Organization in high school, Mexico, Missouri, native Grant Norfleet had no clue that he’d end up being chosen to lead the nation’s largest agricultural youth organization.

Earlier this year, the now-senior University of Missouri agricultural education and leadership major was selected to serve as the national secretary of the National FFA Organization, an association comprising almost 1 million young members wholeheartedly committed to becoming the next generation of leaders in the agriculture space.

Norfleet is temporarily putting his academic degree on pause to travel the country and represent FFA — and Mizzou — for thousands of students.

FFA is a youth organization that prepares its members to go forward as trailblazers of leadership and innovation in careers centered in the science, business and technology of agriculture.

Having joined his high school’s FFA chapter in ninth grade, Norfleet will don the classic blue corduroy jacket now for his seventh and final year in the organization.

“It has been a really humbling experience,” Norfleet, said. “So far, only six students per year get selected for this honor, and it's quite a rigorous process. To see the culmination of the journey I've had within the organization come to fruition has been not only rewarding but also really special because I’m able to give back to students and make this organization better than I found it.”

Trade secrets

In  Mexico, a town of just under 12,000 people deep in central Missouri, Norfleet grew up immersed in farm life. He and his brother participated in county and state fairs where they’d show market steers and breeding heifers that were raised on the farm that has been in his family for generations.

Now, serving as a national FFA officer, Norfleet knows this experience was invaluable.

Grant Norfleet

In his new role, Norfleet wears many hats. He serves as a student member on the board of directors for the national organization, where the board focuses on refining existing FFA policies and proposing new ones to promote progress within the organization.

On the ground, Norfleet and his comrades will be tasked with traveling to eight state FFA conventions this year where he works to build connections with local students, schools and communities and serve as a touchpoint for the National FFA Organization.

“Grant has the opportunity of a lifetime as he serves the National FFA Organization this year,” said Keith Dietzschold, Missouri FFA’s state advisor. “His service will center around visiting with members across the nation and connecting with sponsors on his travels.  This experience will open doors for connecting with the different aspects of agriculture and sponsors across the country, which could lead to many opportunities in the future for Grant.”

On the ground, Norfleet and his comrades will be tasked with traveling to eight state FFA conventions this year. For Norfleet, this means returning to his home state in April for the Missouri FFA Convention.

“Local engagement is really about drilling down to what it means to be in our organization, which is fundamentally a grassroots operation,” Norfleet said. “And then it’s also engaging members from the national perspective and serving as the student base for the national foundation.”

With more than 9,000 chapters across the 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, there is a lot of ground to cover for the national officers.

Growing from our grassroots

As an agriculture education and leadership major with minors in agribusiness management and digital storytelling, Norfleet believes that being involved in FFA helps students become informed consumers and better advocates for the agriculture industry when they graduate.

“FFA features students who are interested in becoming the world’s future scientists, chemists, technology developers, engineers, businesspeople, lawyers, physicians and everything in between,” Norfleet said. “If you really think about it, there isn’t a single industry or career that doesn't touch agriculture in some way, shape or form. We need doctors educated about locally sourced produce and proteins, lawyers who understands the agricultural process and things like succession and estate planning. I’m passionate about FFA because agriculture is the thing that unites us all; there’s space for everyone here no matter whether the connection is production agriculture, or you just like a good, hearty meal.”

Returning to Mizzou next year to complete his final semester in college, Norfleet hopes his service with FFA inspires students of all disciplines to join the cause and give back to the industry that supports us all.

The roots of FFA are deep and they connect to the University of Missouri, Norfleet said. “The first- ever Missouri State Convention was held in Jesse Hall, so there’s a special place held in this community and at this school for our mission and goals.”

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