The Arizona Agricultural Education/FFA Foundation is dedicated to providing expanded educational opportunities for agricultural education and the FFA.

Arizona Agricultural Education/FFA Foundation

You can help make a difference in the lives of Arizona’s future leaders by supporting Agricultural Education and the Arizona FFA.  As a non-profit organization, the Arizona Agricultural Education/FFA Foundation is dedicated to raising funds to cultivate Arizona’s most valuable commodity- our youth.


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Arizona FFA Alumni Spotlight


Miley Gonzalez

Dr. I. Miley Gonzalez is a name familiar to most in American agriculture. His résumé reflects 45 years of service, dedication and integrity. Many of you know where his career took him—his public service includes: Serving as the Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics at the USDA during the Clinton Administration. He was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 1997. He is Professor Emeritus in Agricultural and Extension Education from New Mexico State University and Dr. Gonzalez served as Secretary of Agriculture for the State of New Mexico from 2003 until 2010.

Dr. Gonzalez holds bachelors’ and masters’ degrees from the University of Arizona and a Doctorate from the Pennsylvania State University. Among his many honors over his professional career, Hispanic Business Magazine recognized him as one the top 100 most influential Hispanics in the U. S. During his career, he also served on the faculty and administration at the University of Arizona, the Pennsylvania State University and Iowa State University. He returned to New Mexico State University to serve as Department head for Agricultural and Extension Education and served as Associate Dean and Director for the Agricultural Experiment Station and subsequently as the Vice Provost for Research and was the federal liaison to Congress for the University. Dr. Gonzalez is President and CEO of Development Systems International, Inc., a company he founded in 1984.

Dr. Gonzalez served as a member of the National Telephone Bank Board, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and the Commodity Credit Corporation. He also served on the White House Commission for Excellence in Hispanic and Native American Education as well as the U.S./China Commission on Science and Technology. He served for over 15 years on the USDA/HACU Leadership Team, representing New Mexico State University and the USDA. Often unrealized is that Dr. Gonzalez’s first career was as an agriculture education teacher at Agua Fria High School in Avondale and in Parker, AZ.

Today, Dr. Gonzales is “enjoying retirement” after a 45-year career in both the private and public sectors in education and agriculture. He briefly returned to San Simon, AZ before deciding that his work wasn’t done. Gonzalez said “I have finally grown up enough that I feel I know something—that I have valuable knowledge to share and I have time. Returning to education seemed like the right choice—the right way to continue giving back.”

He currently holds the position of Deputy Director General at the international university, the Center for Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education, CATIE, in Costa Rica. His areas of expertise include education and training, rural and economic development, strategic planning, extension and non-formal education, policy development and analysis, with special emphasis in leadership, policy and public service. He conducted training programs in Costa Rica, Ukraine, India, Egypt, China, Mexico and 16 other countries in Latin America. Dr. Gonzalez’s leadership, knowledge and service have literally changed agriculture around the world.

Those are the major highlights of his extensive career and in no way reflects the vastness of his résumé and experience. He served on countless committees, boards, testified in front of congress multiple times, is extensively published and has received a plethora of honors and awards throughout his career. But where did it begin?

It all began with the Arizona FFA, with great mentors like state advisors Ozzie Moore and Gordon Hall and faculty members, Floyd McCormick, Clint Jacobs, and Phil Zurbrick.. It started in the classroom with legendary agriculture teacher Carnell Sipes. It started with a blue jacket.

Born near El Paso to a 6th-generation-farming family, Miley’s first love was always agriculture. It is in his blood; his family moved a few times when growing up, giving him the opportunity to understand the diversity of agriculture in the American Southwest. He joined the FFA his sophomore year of high school and instantly felt at home. He raised registered Angus cows, judged livestock, participated in agricultural mechanics, was Star Greenhand, Star Chapter Farmer, Vice President and eventually served two years as the Chapter President. In 1966 he earned his American Degree alongside Richard Morrison and several other lifelong agricultural connections. Now as he reflects upon his journey, he sees clearly that agricultural education (and FFA) was the most important step in his individual and collective journey. He credits his family and community for supporting him in his various endeavors

Dr. Gonzalez credits agricultural education with providing him mentors that truly shaped his life. He formed lifelong friendships and acquaintances with individuals from all walks of life; which created a network and a connectivity that aided him in his success throughout his journey. It helped him discover his gift for speaking, teaching and leading. Most importantly, he cites that it was because of the opportunities he was given through the program that he chose a life of service—a life dedicated to protecting agriculture and providing education. It was through his involvement with the FFA that he learned to say “yes.” Given so much through the hard work and education of others made him want to give back and repay the kindness he had been shown. Whenever he wanted to say “no” to getting involved, he thought of Carnell Sipes and the effect he had on his life so he chose to emulate his actions. He chose to live by the principles of the FFA Creed.

Looking back on his extensive career and professional triumphs, he still cites the teachers he mentored as his greatest accomplishment. It is in the classroom that he feels most at home and most accomplished. It is with his students that he feels the most reward after all these years. Despite presidential accommodations and tons of recognition, he is most proud of those he mentored. He keeps in touch with many of his former students and to this day, maintains a mentoring relationship with them some 35 years later. His students now hold leadership positions at universities all over the world and that impact is what he sees as his greatest success—empowering the future. He believes in the FFA difference and recognizes its unstoppable potential to make a better future for the world by building better leaders by paying it forward and providing for the best possible future.





 Click here to view past Arizona FFA Alumni Spotlights




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