Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman has announced the 2003 winners in the sixth annual FFA Risk Management Strategies Writing Contest.

“This USDA/FFA cooperative program provides opportunities for young people to learn more about risk management tools,” said Veneman.

“I applaud these students for recognizing the benefits of an agricultural education, and for contributing to their community through FFA.”

The 10 national winners for 2003 are: Kate Cardinali, Sycamore, Ill.; Weston Wolff, Taft, Texas; Nick Jensen, Higginsville, Mo.; Caitlin Drane, Medaryville, Ind.; John Hendricks, Winchester, Ky.; Chance Simpson, Kremlin, Okla.; Ryan Quarles, Georgetown, Ky.; Josh VanDeWalle, Cedar Rapids, Neb.; Peter Wilson, Chester, S.C.; and Jarrod Reese, Normangee, Texas.

This year's contest attracted 140 agricultural students who took up the challenge of applying the principles of risk management to their own personal enterprises in essays of at least 1,000 words.

The theme of this year's contest was “Risk Management Strategies for My Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) Program.” A panel of independent judges from USDA, academia, state governments, and private industry reviewed the essays.

The purpose of the writing contest is to encourage young people enrolled in agricultural education to become aware of the new risk environment in agriculture and to help them develop a better understanding of the effective use of risk management tools.

Veneman has encouraged youth development programs through her Leaders of Tomorrow (link to: http://www.usda.gov/leadersoftomorrow/index.html) program, which encourages young people to develop leadership skills, consider careers in public service and gain a better understanding of agriculture.

RMA will provide the winners and their advisors with a trip to the nation's capital on May 1-2, where they will participate in a special recognition ceremony at USDA along with other activities.

The National FFA Organization this year is also celebrating 75 years of student success, with 457,000 current members now reaping the benefits of leadership education.