Wendell native was N.C.’s ‘agvocate’ for a year

CorrespondentJune 27, 2013 

Emma Cannon

COURTESY OF EMMA CANNON

— For the past year, Wendell native Emma Cannon has traveled the world, boasting the title of “agvocate.”

The 2012 graduate of East Wake High recently completed her stint as the president of the N.C. Association of the Future Farmers of America. Her presidency took her across the state and country and as far away as Argentina.

“We are advocates of agriculture,” she said. “Or as we like to say, ‘agvocates.’”

It was the visit to the South American country that cemented the desire to combine her two great loves: mission work and agriculture. Once she graduates from N.C. State University, she wants to travel to Third World countries and teach people about the types of crops that can help them become more self-sustaining.

“In your retiring address (last speech as president), you have to discuss your life motto,” Cannon said. “Mine is ‘Go, Serve, Love’ and I want to put that into practice – that has just always been my desire.”

FFA has evolved a great deal since the early years of the organization, when most of the members – predominantly male – grew up to work on their family farms.

“There is a saying about how we are more than just ‘cows, plows and sows,’” Cannon said.

“The whole industry of agriculture has changed,” she explained. “Agriculture covers everything from farm to fork. Approximately 17 percent of the country’s work force is agriculturally related.”

The face of FFA has changed as well. Today, many of the members are female. “When I was at East Wake, I would say our FFA group was about 50/50 male and female,” Cannon said.

During her year as president, she spent much of her time visiting middle and high school FFA chapters “to try and build up the next wave of leaders,” she said. She also traveled to the state legislature and to Washington, D.C., to advocate for “agriculture and agriculture education.”

The trip to Argentina was part of an International Leadership Seminar. It was there she saw how U.S. agricultural imports and exports affect other countries.

“I am really interested in international agriculture; I feel like that is my calling,” Cannon said. “But if I’m called to Africa or I am called to my own backyard, I feel like I have been called to a life of service.”

denacoward@nc.rr.com

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