We devote a lot of space to discussions about the future, and how we can prepare for it.

We also extol the virtues of the local agriculture industry, and its role as the primary engine for the local economy. Crops top the charts when it comes to fueling that engine.

And because it’s Saturday, when we bestow roses to the winners and raspberries to the losers, huge bouquets to the young men and women who are devoting their lives to agriculture as Future Farmers of America.

We are referring to FFA team members from Santa Maria and Pioneer Valley high schools who won state championships earlier this month, and now move on to the national competition in Indianapolis.

There were specific individual winners, but the teams are what really matter in agriculture, because farming is not normally a one-person operation.

Bravo, and roses to the state champs, and good luck in the national event. This is the future of agriculture, which as we all know is the backbone of the Central Coast economy.

***

Roses to all who served our country in the U.S. military branches, because today is Armed Forces Day.

There are about 1.5 million Americans currently in our military services, and there are more than 20 million military veterans in America, which represents a hefty percentage of the U.S population.

And as you might imagine, California has the greatest number of veterans, more than 185,000, and a lot of those veterans live right here on the Central Coast because of this region’s strong military connections, which includes Vandenberg AFB.

Armed Forces Day was launched in 1949 when the military branches were unified under the Department of Defense. The idea today is to focus attention on those who have served, a duty that in too many cases our government has ignored.

If you appreciate the freedoms we enjoy today, thank our military veterans.

***

We have a soft spot for disappearing art forms, and with the pace of technology these days, many of those forms seem to be slipping away.

A good example is the slow, but sure disappearance of the art of cursive writing. In fact, we would bet that a teen-on-the-street interview would produce this unsurprising result — a high percentage of those questioned wouldn’t even know what cursive writing actually is.

It’s a safe bet many people reading this know about cursive all too well, having been thoroughly schooled in that form of communications as a grade-schooler.

There is a student at Santa Maria’s Christian Academy who not only knows about cursive writing, but was recently named best in the nation in her class category.

Norah Mason is an 8-year-old third-grader whose steady hand and flawless pen strokes earned her the national title from educational materials publisher Zaner-Bloser, which has held a National Handwriting Competition since the early 1990s. The contest attracts about 250,000 entries every year from students in grades K-8, and is open to students as young as 5 and old as 14.

Norah also has earned today’s biggest bouquet of roses, although she may have to share that prize. She’s honest about her victory:

"It's kind of nice, but I think my sister's (cursive writing) is a little better,” Norah said. Norah's older sister, Elle, was the person who taught her how to write in cursive in the first place, and the sisters are competing all the time.

It’s comforting to know special youngsters today understand that not all communicating is done with flying thumbs over a tiny keyboard.

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