WIU Ag Major Ashley Mason to Serve Second Term as FFA National Collegiate Ambassador
September 18, 2009
MACOMB, IL - - Western Illinois University agriculture major Ashley Mason will spend another year teaching people around Illinois about the importance of the agriculture industry. The Canton (IL) native was again honored with an appointment as a National Collegiate Agricultural Ambassador by the National FFA Organization.
Last year, during her first appointment in the ambassador post, Mason spent some of her junior year traveling around the state, presenting to school and community groups to promote agricultural awareness. This year, Mason will continue her ambassador post and will be in the position until she graduates in May 2010. She is serving along with 18 other college students from such institutions as California State University-Fresno, Iowa State University, Purdue University and Southern Illinois University.
"I had to re-apply for the program in May, and I was excited that I was again honored with the ambassador appointment," the WIU senior explained. "During our week of training last month, we refined our presenting skills and brushed up on our agricultural knowledge. It was there that the final tally of 62,000 people was presented to us -- that's the number of people the ambassador program has reached since its beginning in 2006. I thought that number was incredible -- to see a program like this be so widespread," she added.
According to the National FFA Organization, the Agricultural Ambassadors develop and implement sustainable agricultural awareness programs that inspire and motivate teachers and students and help communities understand the importance of agriculture.
"Western has had an agriculture student serving in one of these FFA Agricultural Ambassador positions since 2006," noted Andrew Baker, professor in Western's School of Agriculture. "These positions help people understand that their milk doesn't just come from the grocery store, that there are many facets of agriculture and there are many opportunities in the agriculture field for young people. It is a growing industry, comprising 20 percent of the U.S. gross national product. Ashley's re-appointment will continue to help the School of Agriculture and the University through her association with our institution."
Mason noted that her first year as an FFA National Collegiate Agricultural Ambassador taught her about some of the misconceptions people have about the ag industry. This year, she said, her goal remains to promote better understanding of the industry's integral role in the lives of people across Illinois.
"Because American agriculture is so efficient, it makes sense that the majority of the population in not involved in it," Mason said. "But people still need to be educated, so they can make informed decisions, both as consumers and voters."
Mason's ambassadorship has enabled her to provide information and educate a variety of audiences about agriculture, but she noted her favorite talks were those she has given to college-age groups.
"Last year, I gave several presentations about the important aspects of agriculture, such as genetically modified organisms, to WIU and other groups. Speaking to other college students is probably the most enjoyable for me, because we are all on the same level, and I feel that helps me more easily relate to them."
For more information about Mason's National Collegiate Agricultural Ambassador post or to inquire about a presentation she can provide, contact her at AD-Mason@wiu.edu. Learn more about the National FFA Organization at www.ffa.org. Visit WIU's School of Agriculture at wiu.edu/ag/.