State Fair Showcases Young Leaders in Agriculture


Move over Mel Tillis, and drop the deep fried Oreos. There wouldn't be a Nebraska State Fair if not for kids and animals.

Ciana Long's been showing animals since she was seven. Now she's 18 and a leader in her school.

The State Fair may be your view of FFA as kids show off the animals they've worked all summer on.

And it's true, that's a big part of what ag education is all about.

"Take your animal you worked for all summer and get to see how well you took care of it," Long said.

But working on a safety day for kids is also FFA. As the Ravenna chapter co–president, Ciana works on projects like this.

She explained, "This year we're doing farm safety, to teach about agriculture."

So they learn by teaching others and gain leadership experience by working in the community.

"They're really lifelong skills they can use, whether that's communication over the phone or face to face in person," advisor Heath Ahrens said.

Ciana's dad has transitioned from farming to construction, but agriculture's still in her blood.

She said, "I'm not a city kid, so I like FFA, not afraid to deal with animals."

And there's no bigger stage than the Nebraska State Fair.

"I love State Fair, that's where you bring your best animals. You go to county fair, fun and everything, but you see people from all over the state at the State Fair and it's a lot higher competition level," Ciana said.

It gives them an opportunity on a small scale to take animals into a real life production aspect, take it to market weight or breeding age and get an opportunity to show the animal off.

And when Ciana shows market swine at the fair, it's a chance to connect with kids who don't connect animals with bacon and pork chops.

"They go to the fair and say, 'there's cute animals' they don't understand that's what feeds us. That's one major aspect of FFA and during the fair we see that and we're the ones that take care of what they eat," she said.

Ciana has been a part of both 4-H and FFA and will show animals Labor Day weekend at the fair.