Dr. Pete Dreisbach is being honored as a Champion of Change for his efforts in 4-H and Future Farmers of America.
I was born in Yadakunya, Nigeria to parents who were U.S. citizens and served abroad for approximately sixty years. Dad was a physician and Mom was a nurse and both worked hard to serve the very poor. This upbringing strongly influenced my world view and I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not intensely interested in agriculture and equally interested in youth and their development. Upon coming to the United States of America for post secondary education, I was introduced to FFA which precisely combined my interests both in youth development and in agriculture. What could possibly be more important than youth development and the provision of food, fiber, and shelter? In Georgia I taught agriculture at the Junior High and high school levels and served as Advisor to a local FFA Chapter and worked with the local Young Farmers of America Chapter (YFA) as well. After earning my terminal degree, I worked on the Department of Agriculture faculty at Western Kentucky University. For the past 27 years I have served as Program Consultant-Agriculture for the Kentucky Department of Education as well serving as the Director of the Kentucky FFA Leadership Training Center. Additionally, I work with Kentucky FFA at the regional and State levels, coordinate Kentucky FFA Alumni, work with Kentucky’s new and returning teachers of agriculture and with the Kentucky YFA on the regional and state levels as well. I have also served for many years in Ecuador as a volunteer with Farmer-To-Farmer/Kentucky Partners of the Americas in youth development. Youth leadership development is a particular focus and passion so I am indeed honored that after over thirty years working in this arena to be included as a White House Champion of Change.
The Kentucky FFA Leadership Training Center (LTC) began in 1937 on property procured from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) by the Kentucky Vocational Agriculture Teachers' Association (KVATA now KAAE) for use as a facility for “providing training in leadership and citizen development for youth” (705 KAR 4:080).
The LTC is celebrating its 75th anniversary, for which I have been Director for a third of this period, made possible by the visionary and sacrificial efforts of early Kentucky Agricultural Educators who Kentuckian author, Jesse Stuart, called “Smith-Hughes” Teachers! Today the LTC provides leadership development opportunities for almost 3,000 young people every summer from every county in the Commonwealth.
The facilities of the LTC have been greatly improved and expanded during my tenure and are excellent but what are most important are NOT the facilities but rather the educational focus on leadership development. I achieve immense satisfaction in my efforts in strengthening the LTC curricula. Every activity, whether being a catalyst for community service or instruction on effectively serving on a committee or preparing a speech or enhancing parliamentary skills or improving effective public communications or enhancing group dynamics through the Ropes/Challenge Course or even a recreational activity, the focus is on leadership development in order that these young people go back to their home communities and serve a leaders both now and as they mature into adults.
Dr. Pete Dreisbach is the Director of the Kentucky FFA Leadership Training Center.