On June 22, the first lady of Virginia, Suzanne Youngkin, delivered the keynote address to the 2023 Virginia FFA convention, the first time a first lady of Virginia addressed the convention in Burruss Hall on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus.
“Today is the perfect example of strengthening the spirit of Virginia, and we are so proud of the work you endeavor to do,” Youngkin said to a Virginia FFA audience that was standing-room only. Virginia is “the nation’s leader in vertical farming, has premier veterinary training technologies, and are dutiful stewards of our precious land.”
Virginia’s largest private industry is agriculture, which has an economic impact of $82.3 billion annually. When combined with forestry, these two industries contribute $105 billion to the state economy and provide more than 490,000 jobs, according to a recent study by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. Virginia Tech, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, its Agricultural Research and Extension Centers, and Virginia Cooperative Extension offices are critical in supporting Virginia’s agriculture and forestry industries.
As a land-grant university, Virginia Tech works in partnership with federal, state, and local government stakeholders and industry to meet evolving agricultural needs in Virginia as well as throughout the country and around the world.
In her address, Youngkin encouraged Virginia FFA members to “engage in the real world with real people” by looking away from digital screens.
“Take real risks and experience the sweet stuff in life,” Youngkin said. “By simply being here today and being a part of FFA, you are well on your way to contributing to Virginia’s agriculture industry.”
Andrew Seibel, president of the National FFA organization and a student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, echoed what Youngkin said later in the evening.
“You can’t take opportunities for granted,” he said. “Don’t waste them.”
- Max Esterhuizen