At the nation’s largest student farm organization, a reckoning on race

When Xavier Morgan first enrolled in the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences in 2010, he wasn’t necessarily interested in farming. In fact, his admission to the school, which his aunt recommended due to its strong reputation for career and technical education, was in part a product of chance.

“I actually have no family ties to agriculture whatsoever,” says Morgan, who grew up in Chicago. “We went one day, took an application, and then I got in.”

By his sophomore year, Morgan found himself involved with the school’s chapter of the National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America. He was first drawn to the organization — the largest student-led farm group in the country, with 600 members at his school — for its leadership opportunities. But soon he came to have a passion for agriculture, eager to shape the future of an industry that he now considers “the most important in the world.” He began to rise through the group’s leadership ranks.