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FFA Elects National Officers, Crowns American Stars

A record 67,006 members, advisors, supporters, and guests gathered from across the nation at the 2017 national FFA convention in Indianapolis October 25-28 for leadership and career training. Each year, six highly motivated students are also elected to represent the organization as national officers. Out of a pool of 41 candidates (each state FFA association has the opportunity to submit one individual annually), delegates elected the following members to serve as president, secretary, and regional vice presidents.

  • Breanna Holbert
    • National FFA President
    • California State University of Chico
  • Erica Baier
    • National FFA Secretary
    • Iowa State University
  • Piper Merrit
    • National FFA Central Region Vice President
    • Oklahoma State University
  • Bryce Cluff
    • National FFA Western Region Vice President
    • University of Arizona
  • Ian Bennet
    • National FFA Southern Region Vice President
    • University of Georgia
  • Gracie Furnish
    • National FFA Eastern Region Vice President
    • University of Kentucky

National officers commit to a year of service to the National FFA Organization, and travel more than 100,000 national and international miles to interact with industry leaders, FFA members and teachers, corporate sponsors, government and education officials, state FFA leaders, and more. This year’s team will lead personal growth and leadership training conferences for FFA members throughout the country, and help set policies that promote agricultural literacy and guide the future of FFA.

American Stars

The National FFA Organization also awarded four members with American Star Awards, presented to FFA members who have demonstrated outstanding agricultural skills and competencies by operating an agricultural business, having an agriculture-based internship, or conducting agriculture-based scientific experiments with results. Sixteen finalists from across the nation were nominated by a panel of judges and interviewed at the national convention.

Joseph Arnold, from Holloway, Minnesota, was named the 2017 American Star Farmer for his work in the production and marketing of his crops. “I try to make the best products we can on the least amount of ground, on the least amount of input to try to be more sustainable and keep up with the growing demand for food,” Arnold says. Through his work on his family farm, Arnold diversified his crops, increased farm sustainability, and researched additional varieties of produce to add to his operation.

Kellie Einck of Paullina, Iowa, was awarded the 2017 American Star in Agricultural Placement Award. Her dedication to her work as a mechanical engineer led to her success in what is usually a male-dominated field. “Each step I took had its own challenges, but each success gave me a giant boost of confidence to go on to the next thing,” Einck says. “It takes courage, perseverance, and optimism to keep pushing on.”

The American Star in Agribusiness was awarded to Austin Nordyke from Hugoton, Kansas, for launching his own lawn maintenance operation. “Over the last five years, I’ve been able to start my own business and successfully manage it,” Nordyke says. “The skills I’ve learned through FFA and through my business will stay with me throughout the rest of my life.” Nordyke plans to continue expanding the lawn care business he has been managing since 8th grade.

Chrysta Beck of Archbold, Ohio, was awarded the American Star in Agriscience for her studies in alternative global poultry production and welfare. Beck has been investigating methods for replacing antibiotics since high school. “It’s important that we have this research so we can understand the future of this industry,” Beck says.

By Zoe Zuidema

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