By Doug Graves
WAYNE CITY, Ill. – From the very moment he spoke one-on-one with Illinois FFA President Joey Birrittier in 2018, Adam Loker set his sights on holding that position someday. For three years it was his desire, passion and determination.
Last week Loker’s hopes and dreams became a reality when he was elected Illinois State FFA president at the State FAA Convention.
“I think back to my freshman year at Wayne City High, when I was able to meet Birrittier, and how impressed I was at how he held himself and reached out to people,” Loker said. “Meeting him stuck with me. I was impressed by him. And to think that now here I am, and I get to be that person who can mentor other students. Being able to have that personal connection with students is going to be just awesome.”
Loker was Section 23 president and graduated as a co-valedictorian from Wayne City High in May. He was tops in his graduating class with a 4.0 grade point average. He is the first from the Wayne City FFA to hold a state office and is the second person from Wayne County to serve. Adam is the son of Roger and Shayna Loker.
“There is no one like a state officer who can connect with members on a deep level,” Loker said. “I will motivate members to come out of their comfort zone, help them figure out the plans they have for their life in a short amount of time, and let them know they matter and have a purpose.”
Loker was never involved with 4-H and didn’t discover FFA until his freshman year, following the lead of his older brother.
“I saw my brother’s engagement in FFA and saw his excitement when he attended the National FFA Convention,” Adam said. “I was in junior high at the time and knew that’s what I wanted to do someday.
“After I joined, my brother’s advice was to run for the highest office possible. As a freshman the highest position you could go for at that time was that of vice president, so that’s what I did. I ended up being the chapter reporter, but I was happy at that. My sophomore year I ran for president and won, and held that position for two years.”
Adam resides on a farm, helping his parents with their 1,400 acres of corn and soybeans. He received scholarships from and will attend Southern Illinois University this fall, where he will study agribusiness economics.
“I’m not 100 percent decided what I want to do after graduating from SIU,” he said. “I might want to trade grain or even become a loan officer. I want to try several things out, but I do want to return to the farm and help out. That’s my passion. But right now, I’m fully engaged on helping others in FFA.”
Loker said the excitement of being voted state FFA president hasn’t sunk in, even five days after the announcement. “This is an amazing feeling,” he said. “I haven’t processed it in my head to this day. But I know I look forward to a phenomenal year serving as president.”
Elected vice president was Jaton Shaffer, of DeWitt County and the Blue Ridge FFA Chapter. He is the son of Dyke and Kendra Shaffer and graduate of Blue Ridge High School.
“I can’t honestly say how much this means to me,” Shaffer said. “I am so excited for this next year. As a state officer, it is my goal to continue to share my passions, experiences and leadership with others. I hope I can inspire the next generation of FFA members.”
Lauren Mohr, of McLean County and the Norman West FFA Chapter, is the new reporter. She is the daughter of Brian and Jill Ascher Mohr and graduate of Normal West High School.
“I know how it feels to be lost and feel like you don’t belong,” Mohr said. “As a state officer, I hope to create a welcome environment and help members push through whatever the world may throw at them.”
Gracie Murphy, of McDonough County and the Macomb FFA Chapter, is the new secretary. She is the daughter of Robert Lawrence and Wendy Murphy and a graduate of Macomb High School.
“I plan on utilizing my knowledge and experience to enhance leadership, passion, potential and futures of FFA members,” Murphy said. “My goal is to help them become more authentic versions of themselves who are able to accomplish their personal and professional goals.”
Kara Freebairn, of LaSalle County and the Serena FFA Chapter, was elected treasurer. She is the daughter of Scott and Heather Freebairn and a graduate of Serena High School.
“I’d like to help FFA members develop leadership skills,” Freebairn said. “Our differences are what make each of us unique, and it is important to me that everyone is seen and accepted for who they are and where they come from with pride.”
Each officer puts their collegiate pursuits on hold for one year to serve the Illinois Association FFA in a fulltime capacity. Officers typically travel more than 20,000 miles visiting FFA chapters around the state, conducting workshops and meetings, representing Illinois FFA in professional settings and promoting agricultural education.