By W. Dwight Armstrong, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, National FFA Organization and National FFA Foundation

This October, more than 64,000 students, advisors and guests will visit Louisville, Ky., to participate in the 88th National FFA Convention & Expo. As the nation’s largest annual student gathering, the FFA convention is full of educational opportunities for members and teachers alike. It’s also an opportunity for FFA members to come together and celebrate student accomplishment, service and something that makes this country great, agriculture.

FFA members plant marigolds in downtown Louisville, KYToday's FFA members know the future of agriculture is strong, and together they are building communities. Giving back to others and serving neighbors has always been important to FFA members. Throughout the year, they ‘amplify’ their passion for service by giving back in a variety of ways—from FFA: Food For All and Living to Serve initiatives to National FFA Week. During the National FFA Convention & Expo, FFA members put service into action by giving of their time and talents during the National Days of Service. They then take what they learn at the convention back home and help strengthen agriculture in their local communities.

FFA members are preparing for their future and experience personal growth in a variety of ways. During the convention, they participate in career development events, Career Success Tours, student workshops and connecting with industry and higher education representatives at our agricultural expo.

FFA members are also leaders, and they know that while one voice can be heard, a symphony of voices can express the importance of agriculture and advocate for agricultural education with even greater impact. This year, the #SpeakAg campaign has become a movement for FFA members. It’s an opportunity to share the story of agriculture and the importance it has on everyday life. As our global population continues to grow, so will the need for a healthy, sustainable and abundant food supply. Together, FFA members ‘amplify’ their voice by educating others about the importance of growing our resources in the food, fiber and natural resources industry to make a positive impact on our quality of life.

FFA, CSX, and City Year at a service day event in Curtis Bay in Baltimore, MD

Our future leaders in agriculture are today's FFA members. With more than 300 satisfying careers in agriculture to choose from, they know there are many opportunities to employ their talents. Through agricultural education, FFA members are ‘amplifying’ their preparation for career success.

This year, FFA membership rose yet again to a record high level. With 629,367 members and 7,757 chapters in 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, our students know the future of agriculture is bright, and they are eager to play an active part in driving the industry forward.

FFA members are premier leaders. Whether serving as a chapter officer or participating in community service, each member makes a positive difference in the lives of those around them. Their belief in giving back to the community is inspiring to all. Investing in their development at any level will strengthen American agriculture and provide leaders who build healthy local communities, a strong nation and a sustainable world.

Brought to you by CSX. Check out www.csxgrowingtomorrow.com, where visitors can share their own family history and experiences. For every story shared, CSX is making a donation to FFA’s Agriculture and Literacy Advocacy Platform, a program dedicated to ensuring that the agricultural leaders of tomorrow have everything they need to succeed today.

Related on MNN: