By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
MARYSVILLE, Ohio — Union County FFA members can be proud of their performance at the National FFA Convention – Elizabeth Hayes of Marysville FFA and Jakob Wilson of Fairbanks FFA were both National Proficiency winners. The Marysville chapter was also named a national runner-up in the Model of Excellence competition.
The Agricultural Proficiency Awards honored FFA members who, through their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE), have developed specialized skills they can apply toward careers. The Model of Excellence competition looked at student, chapter and community development; it encourages members to grow as individuals, to work as part of a team and to serve others.
Hayes was named National Champion in equine entrepreneurship, said Shari Anderson, who, along with Bill Keck and Ashley Thompson, is an FFA advisor at Marysville High School.
“She started her SAE project, which was training horses and giving lessons, in her freshman year of high school,” Anderson said. “Over the last four years she built that business. She was named the national winner, so there is not a student in FFA that has a better equine project than she, nationwide.
“As a student, she was awesome! Elizabeth was the kind of student you could give a task to, and you knew it would be done. She was creative, enthusiastic and responsible.”
Hayes started by giving her 4-H friends riding lessons when she was in the seventh and eighth grades, she said. She eventually had 11 clients.
“I gave lessons to kids and adults,” she said. “Then I had four horses in training. I taught Western and English disciplines.”
The daughter of Tim and Laura Hayes, she is attending the University of Findlay, with a double major in Western equestrian and equine business management and a minor in marketing. Hayes said she never dreamed she would be the national winner.
She plans to continue her business, specializing in reining.
Wilson was named a National Champion in the area of diversified crop production placement proficiency, said Fairbanks High School FFA advisor Rob Riddle. Wilson worked on his family farm of more than 4,000 acres of corn and soybeans. He racked up more than 2,000 hours during the course of his FFA career.
He is now in The Ohio State University’s crop management program. “He lives on his family farm where they farm over 3,700 acres of corn and soybeans,” Riddle said.
“His goal was to learn all aspects of the business. He participated in seed and chemical selection, and field scouting.”
The son of John and Christie Wilson said he didn’t have words to describe how he felt about winning the award.
“(It’s) just knowing that all of the hard work that I put in the last four years doing something that I love,” Wilson said. “I don’t have a word to describe it. Farming is my passion. I now have 500 acres of my own that I am farming right now.”
“He is a great kid, he is a hard worker,” Riddle said. “He was a four-year member of the FFA; he was a chapter officer for two years. He was involved very heavily with the farming end of it. He did not participate on any school activities because all of his time was spent on the farm.”
Model of Excellence
The Model of Excellence division recognizes the best 10 FFA chapters in the nation, Anderson said. The competition began nine months ago when Marysville High School was named the No. 1 chapter in Ohio in the area of student development, and advanced to the national level.
At the convention Marysville was chosen as a finalist. Ryan Schwyn and Hayes, with help from Jenna Lee, completed a presentation and an interview about the chapter’s activities and the level of involvement and leadership of the students.
It was a great honor to be chosen as a finalist, Anderson said.