IWU alumnus Sherene Donaldson is the new executive secretary for the National FFA Organization–also known as Future Farmers of America. The FFA is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States.

The FFA role comes as part of her new position as Educational Program Specialist through the Office of Vocational and Adult Education in the US Department of Education. The FFA is an independent nonprofit organization, but the FFA maintains some connections to the USDE through individuals like Donaldson.

Donaldson holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Indiana University and a master’s degree in education from Indiana Wesleyan University. She previously held a position as curriculum and adult education director at Central Nine Career Center in Greenwood, Indiana.

Donaldson believes that the agricultural education offered through the FFA will be essential for young people in the 21st century. “It’s beyond farming,” she told IWU Spectrum. “It’s beyond the old way of thinking when it comes to just farming. I mean, there’s agribusiness, there’s aquaculture–there’s so many different aspects of agriculture education these days that almost any field would fit into this.”

Donaldson notes that the FFA, with more than 500,000 members nationwide is also an effective engine for grooming young leaders. “I would say that it’s student leadership and developing youth to really aspire in their career choices and to always remember that they can achieve their dreams and to remember their roots…they teach students the leadership qualities that they need in order to be successful.”

“I believe that once a school or a student becomes familiar with what FFA is and what they do and how they grow and develop students, they will want to become part of FFA,” Donaldson said. “FFA students are some of the top students you’ll ever meet.”

Donaldson credits her education at IWU with giving her a lot of the tools she needs to be successful in her current position. “I would say that what I’ve learned at Indiana Wesleyan has guided me into where I am now. It has provided me with tools that I needed to be successful, and to see the bigger picture, and to be a true agent of change, and to be able to serve as a servant-leader.”