It's Western Montana Fair week, and we wanted to acknowledge a couple youth organizations that are a cornerstone of almost any county fair.

Some of their efforts can be seen every year at the annual 4H-FFA Livestock Sale at the Missoula Fairgrounds. This year's auction takes place Saturday, August 12, starting at 8:00 a.m. It's open to everyone who would like to come support these kids and bid on their animals.

Agriculture plays a key role in everyday life. The Northern Ag News Network tells us that the National FFA Organization recently record-high student membership of 945,988, an increase of 11 percent from last year. And, the number of FFA chapters increased by 168 this year, resulting in 9,163 chapters.

While hardly the nation's biggest, Montana FFA chapters continue to uptrend as well. Its state director of development, Morgan Kuntz, told Northern Ag News that, “We’ve got a little over 6,600 across the state of Montana. 109 chapters, a couple more that are looking at coming on board this year.

"What an exciting time to be a part of agriculture and I can tell you the future of agriculture is looking pretty bright.”

So, what's driving membership? Kuntz's thoughts are, "I think the leadership aspect of FFA is a huge draw. I also think the community aspect of FFA is a really big draw to these students, especially post-covid, where we as a society became fractured and isolated."

And we could not possibly post a story like this without also recognizing the contributions of Montana 4H, which offers more than 200 different projects and learning experiences that that actively engage youth while having fun  4H is Montana's largest out-of-school youth development program, reaching nearly 20,000 youngsters in all 56 counties. The Montana 4-H Foundation supports 4-H initiatives that focus on healthy living, citizenship, leadership, science, engineering and technology, to name a few.

Scholarships and grants provide opportunities for kids to strengthen their skills and maximize their positive impacts on the communities in which they live.

We hope you enjoy the fair this week and we wish all the 4H-FFA kids a very successful livestock sale!

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