Local FFA members recently stepped into national events, and in some cases, the national spotlight.
Texico, Elida and Dora students participated in the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, and Texico FFA members competed in the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City, Mo. Both events were in late October.
Texico FFA adviser Tod Pinnell said teams that won first place in their events at state conventions competed at the national convention, while state second-place teams were invited to the American Royal show.
Also, two area students — Ryan Best of Elida and Holly Harrison of Texico — received their FFA American Degree.
Best said the degree is the highest level of FFA membership and about 1 percent of members achieve it. Students earn the honor based on supervised agriculture and entrepreneurship experience.
“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to ever since my grand dad told me he got his in 1951,” Best said.
Best, a 2009 graduate of Elida High School, was in sixth grade when he learned of his grandfather’s achievement.
“It’s hard for me to convey to you the significance of it,” he said. “It’s one of those things, once a student sets his mind to it, it’s really neat when he can accomplish it.”
The American Degree is one requirement to run for national FFA office, which Best hopes to do next year.
Texico FFA’s poultry-judging team took fourth place at the national convention, while the chapter’s dairy team came in eighth. The livestock-judging team from Texico earned fourth place at the American Royal show.
“They worked really hard in order to get to participate in those, and they used their strengths and abilities and went and represented their community really well,” Pinnell said of his students.
He said the teenagers are sharp, and the school has supported them.
“I expect great things from those kids as well as many others we have right now,” Pinnell said. “They’re all a credit to their community. … I’m humbled to work with the kids I get to see every day.”
Also, a group of Dora FFA members attended the national convention as a reward for winning the Sweepstakes award, the overall top position, at the last state FFA Convention, said chapter adviser Kit Pettigrew. FFA member Logan Bilbrey said their dairy foods team was eligible to compete at the national convention, but two members had gone on to college and couldn’t come.
Pettigrew said the Dora FFA representatives attended workshops, motivational speeches and a trade show at the convention. On the way to and from the event, their experiences included trips to a tobacco farm and soy bean farm, visits to the Louisville Slugger plant and Churchill Downs, and a ride to the top of the Arch in St. Louis.
“The kids really enjoyed it,” Pettigrew said. “They also got a lot of education benefit out of it.”
Bilbrey, a junior, said the career show at the convention stuck out to him because of the many vendors wanting to show how they supported FFA. Even though they’re big businesses, they want to assist organizations that help youth, he said.
Bilbrey appreciated the closing speeches of the national officers as well because the statements showed how the officers had given time to make FFA better for each school.
“I learned that since we’re ag kids, we should try to better ourselves to help the community,” he said.