By TIM THORNBERRY
FRANKFORT, Ky. — In what has become the norm for Kentucky FFA students, once again their trip to the national convention proved successful.
The event last month brought a record 56,107 members from across the country into Indianapolis, Ind. Kentucky chapters and individuals took home top or near-the-top honors in several categories. Joenelle Futrell, a University of Kentucky (UK) student and member of the Daviess County FFA, was named National Eastern Region Vice President.
She is the 11th national FFA officer from the state and the first female national officer from Kentucky, according to information provided by Kentucky FFA. She said when her FFA career began, becoming a national officer was not something she thought about; a goal like that did not seem real. But what she’s learned has helped her achieve this milestone.
“This is an incredible opportunity to grow as an individual, as an educator and as a leader. But it is also an incredible responsibility, because you understand how much this organization and all its workers have invested in you.” she said. “And you understand how much the members and even the advisers are looking to you to be that example and be that person that can influence and conserve.”
Futrell has been well-versed in the duties of an FFA officer, having served as her chapter president for two years and serving at the state level as an officer. This new position, however, will send her far beyond the boundaries of the Bluegrass State.
“Essentially, as one of the national officers, we represent all the members across the U.S., the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We will end up traveling at least 100,000 miles over the course of the year,” she said.
Those travels will take her not only to the four corners of the country but to other parts of the world, as well. Between now and the first of the year, Futrell said she and the other officers will spend much time in leadership training sessions before starting that vigorous travel schedule next year.
“Once FFA Week hits at end of February, we’ll be sent as individuals to different state conventions, conferences, leadership events (and) on business and industry visits with stakeholders to meet with sponsors and to all different venues, so that we can advocate for agriculture and education and, of course, for FFA,” she said.
She added it is really humbling to see how many individuals, educators, friends, fellow members and people who came before her have influenced her growth and ability to lead.
“It all goes back to how each activity, each classroom experience, each part of my SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience), each instance really was geared for the entire FFA mission of making a difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success,” she said.
Futrell is currently studying agriculture education at UK.
Other Kentucky honors
Kentucky also has the distinction this year of having the first named National Model of Excellence Chapter. Spencer County FFA received the honor that recognizes the top chapter in the country. Success is no stranger to that particular organization, as it has thrived for years at both the state and national levels in all areas of agricultural education, including classroom instruction, FFA and SAE.
Another first-place award for Kentucky came with Jordan Lucas of the Lincoln County FFA. He received honors in the National Agriscience Fair, in Division 1 of Power Structural and Technical Systems. He completed research related to the effectiveness of various hay storage methods, using the scientific method.
Star Award finalists went to Alexander Richardson of the Meade County FFA, named one of four National Finalists for the American Star Farmer Award, and Zachary Cotton of the Spencer County FFA, named one of four National Finalists for the American Star In Agribusiness Award.
Those awards are based on a student’s progress in developing their SAE program, FFA accomplishments, record of scholarship and community involvement, and are the highest awards given by the National FFA Organization, noted information from Matt Chaliff, state FFA executive secretary.
“Once again, Kentucky FFA members proved that they are second to none. We are proud of the accomplishments of our members at the National FFA Convention and expect even greater things in the year to come,” he said.
For a complete listing of national winners, visit www.ffa.org