By Michele F. Mihaljevich
INDIANAPOLIS – Seth Ariens, recently elected Indiana FFA president for 2022-23, said he wanted to run for state office to help leave a lasting impact on the organization.
Mary Jones, elected Northern Region vice president, said she would like to help current members just as previous officers helped her.
Ariens and Jones are two of seven members elected to statewide office during the Indiana FFA Convention in June. The other officers are Tobias Sturgell, secretary; Jenna Kelsay, Southern Region vice president; Anthony Taylor, treasurer; Gracie Lee, reporter; and Jaden Maze, sentinel. The seven will serve as officers until the next state convention in June 2023.
Ariens and Jones served as section directors prior to becoming state officers.
“My why (for running for office) gets me out of bed in the morning,” Ariens explained. “I want to advocate for our organization and advocate for the ag industry in general. Lasting impacts are a team thing, they’re going to be accomplished as a team. One singular impact is the member on member relationships.”
Jones said previous state officers had a lasting impact on her. “They made me feel valued,” she noted. “They served as mentors. This will be my opportunity to be that person for the current members. My why is to be a friend and mentor to them.”
Ariens, a member of the North Putnam FFA chapter, grew up on a farm and always wanted to participate in FFA. “My parents were in FFA. We moved away from the farm but FFA kept me 100 percent involved in agriculture. I wanted to judge livestock and give speeches. I loved it. I got so much more out of it than I thought I would.”
Jones, a member of the Adams Central FFA chapter, didn’t grow up on a farm, though her grandparents had one. “I started showing livestock when I was in elementary school,” she recalled. “My dad was the FFA advisor in school. I got involved more in FFA in middle school. I traveled along to all the events with my parents. I thought (the FFA members) were having fun and I wanted to do that too. I saw the events and friendships and how much fun they had. As a kid, I was really jealous of that. It didn’t take much convincing for me to join.”
Ariens and Jones both graduated from high school this year. They will take a gap year before starting college so they can focus on their officer duties. Next year, Ariens will attend Purdue University to study agricultural economics. Jones will major in communications at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Jones said the connections she expects to make as an officer, plus the public speaking skills she’ll learn, will help prepare her for college.
“I have friends I made in the 7th grade I still talk to,” she stated. “There are a lot of skills we wouldn’t be able to learn outside of the office.”
“Those connections, friends and relationships, and learning to maintain connections, are important,” he pointed out. “The connections we make will help in the future after college. Those connections and the unique set of skills we’ll get will benefit us in our future endeavors.”