FFA Member Preserves Indigenous and Agricultural Heritage


November is Native American Heritage Month, and with more than 12,000 FFA members, the organization is celebrating their rich heritage and tradition.

Today we’re highlighting Marco Ovando, a member of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation. He made FFA history by becoming the first Native American elected as FFA State President in any state or territory, serving as Nevada State President from 2018-2019.

“My FFA chapter is the Duck Valley FFA Chapter, and it’s unique because many students here consider themselves to be from both Idaho and Nevada. I live on the Idaho side of town, but I went to high school on the Nevada side,” Ovando told FFA New Horizons. He graduated from Owyhee High School in 2018. “My high school is on the reservation, so it serves a lot of Native Americans. Our FFA chapter has one of the largest enrollments of Native Americans in FFA.”

Ovando is now in his third year at Boise State University and is majoring in political science and communications.

“FFA helped build my confidence as a public speaker,” Ovando says. “I have a lot of social anxiety, but FFA helped curb that anxiety so I could engage with a wide range of audiences. FFA also helped me realize I like engaging in policy work, which sounds boring to some, but policy affects our everyday lives.”

His Native American heritage, FFA, experience, and the agricultural connection of his people have all helped Ovando get to where he is today.

“I’m a living, breathing embodiment of the resilience of my ancestors, who literally fought to death to preserve our languages, our culture, and what it means to be an indigenous person,” Ovando says. “We don’t want that to go away, so I’m committed to preserving our culture for generations to come. My great-great-great grandmother’s statue stands in the U.S. Capitol building because she was the first Native American to testify before Congress and the first Native American woman to be an author.”

Ovando made sure to point out the statue of Sarah Winnemucca to his fellow state officers while meeting with legislators in DC.

“That was a cool experience,” he says. “It was even more meaningful because I was able to take a picture with her statue while wearing my FFA jacket.”



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