Alli Young- Staff Writer
Each October, roughly 63,000 high school students from all fifty states gather in one city for one of the world’s largest annual student conventions: the National FFA (Future Farmers of America) Convention. What better recruiting opportunity for the Dordt Agriculture department? That’s why Dordt’s Pro-Tech Enrollment Coordinator Jade Van Holland, Ag Stewardship Center member Mike Schouten, senior Andrea Borup, and senior Rebecca Steiger spent Oct. 19-21 representing Dordt College amidst the sea of blue and gold in Indianapolis, IN.
“I think FFA is a good way to reach out to potential students because those kids that are involved in FFA are extremely motivated, especially the ones you see at National FFA Convention,” said sophomore Georgia Lucas, an Agriculture Ambassador for Dordt. “They’re the ones that are the leaders of their high school. And so, going to National Convention to recruit kids, you’re getting the best of the best in agriculture.”
Although Dordt is only one of dozens of colleges which pay for a chunk of real estate at the highly competitive National FFA college and career expo, Dordt’s large banner boldly proclaiming “Your Christian College Choice for Agriculture” quickly differentiates it from the Iowa State’s and Virginia Tech’s.
Over several years of recruiting at National FFA, Dordt has created such a magnetic forcefield for students seeking Christian ag programs that other Christian colleges have begun to request a booth in close proximity to Dordt’s, in hopes of scooping up more of that demographic. One Christian college, Emmanuel College, has even created an agricultural missions program modeled after Dordt’s program, making Dordt one of now two schools in existence that offer agricultural missions as a major.
“It’s cool to see how Dordt, being an Christian-agriculture school, really has influence and a good reputation,” said Van Holland. “Other schools respect Dordt College and want to model after us because we’re kind of paving the way for agriculture schools and we’re paving the way for a new tech program as well.”
Van Holland also served as an Agriculture Ambassador when she attended Dordt. She recruited Georgia Lucas, who was a high school student from New Jersey at the time. Lucas had been looking for a school that offered a combination of agriculture and mission work. Van Holland, an ag missions major, was able to share her experiences with Lucas when she stopped by the Dordt booth at the National FFA Convention.
“If I hadn’t met Dordt at National FFA Convention, I might have had a different outlook of being a student here now,” said Lucas. “When I met Jade, and I saw who the people were that were at Dordt, I was like, ‘Wow, I like these people. I think I would like being around a lot of people like that.’”
Without even visiting Dordt, Lucas packed her bags and moved to Sioux Center to begin college in the fall of 2015. A year later, Lucas’ heavy involvement in the Agriculture Department and AG Club has led her to represent the very position that she credits for attracting her to Dordt. Lucas hopes to return to the National FFA Convention in the next two years – this time to recruit instead of be recruited. Van Holland also plans to continue representing the Admissions Department at National Convention.
“I just love being at FFA because that’s how I met Georgia,” said Van Holland. “It’s awesome to see your harvest pay off when you get students here that you met at the FFA convention who would have never otherwise heard of Dordt College.”