MADISON, Wis. (AP) -

The Future Farmers of America convention begins today in Madison.

Wisconsin membership in the FFA has grown to a 29-year high with more than 19,000 students and 255 chapters.

The FAA was once primarily male, and its membership fell off in the 1980s as boys lost interest in farming.

But many students are giving the organization a new look, drawn by opportunities in genetic engineering, food science and computer technology.

FFA executive director Cheryl Zimmerman tells the Wisconsin State Journal that members now come from urban and rural school districts and include males and females. She says students are attracted by the diverse skills FFA teaches -- including communication skills, teamwork and problem solving.