By Ali Barrett, staff writer
Potomac State College students, Paige Bohrer, Kyle Collins, Theodore Evans III, Andrew Hauser and Luke Hott, were awarded the American Future Farmers of America Degree at the 89th National FFA Convention and Expo held in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The National FFA Organization only hands out 3,500 American FFA Degrees a year. This makes up less than one percent of the 600,000 FFA members. Needless to say, the degree is the highest honor one can receive in FFA. Along with the degree, each member receives a gold American FFA Degree key.
Hauser, the 2016-2017 State FFA President, has found FFA to be quite rewarding. He said the organization has helped shape him into the leader he is today by developing his public speaking and conversation skills. It has also made him realize his career of one day becoming an agriculture teacher.
“This was a goal of mine to achieve from the first time I put on my [FFA] jacket. Being the first one ever to receive this degree from my high school was very humbling to me,” Hauser said.
Both Hauser and Bohrer love attending the convention each year. It brings them closer with old friends and gives them a chance to meet new people. Since Hauser serves as a state FFA officer, he serves on a committee during the convention to vote on changes made to the national level.
Bohrer, Hampshire County FFA member, sees people in the club as part of her family. She said it has taught her to stand up for what she believes in and has allowed her to be more confident in herself.
She remembers the ceremony like it was yesterday. She waited in line to go across the stage where she shook the president’s hand and smiled for a photo. Afterwards, she was greeted by family, friends and advisers who congratulated her. “I was gleaming with pride and it is certainly a moment I will never ever forget,” Bohrer said.
Collins, Gilmore County FFA member, credits the club for making him into the man he is today. He said the organization has given him more knowledge and wisdom on things that farmers need to know.
He was both happy and sad to receive his degree. “I knew that was probably the last time I would zip that corduroy jacket,” Collins said. He plans to use the degree to become an animal inspector and run his own farm. Collins said his favorite part of the convention is the expo on new technology used today in agriculture.
Evans, Garrett County FFA member, also hopes to become an agriculture teacher. Through officer positions, the club has helped him become more responsible and a stronger team leader. He was very excited to get his degree. “Being looked up at by my FFA peers and getting put on TV for my three seconds of fame on RFDTV was worth it,” Evans said.
Evans is reminded of what the future of agriculture holds when he visits the convention each year. Seeing all the students wearing their dress code of blue corduroy jackets gives him hope that the future of agriculture will be a great one.
Hott, Hampshire County FFA member, said the club has shaped him to be a better leader and public speaker. He had mixed emotions while receiving his degree. “I was telling myself not to fall in front of all these people and my hard work has finally paid off,” Hott said. He enjoys the convention where he is able to learn about different career pathways in agriculture and make new connections with those who are already in the industry.
Thousands of high schools and colleges around the country attend the convention every year. It offers workshops for the students as well as the teachers, shopping trips, talent competitions, concerts and keynote speakers.
Before students can get the degree, they have to fill out an application to prove they have met the requirements. The application has to be approved by the regional, state and national FFA. Students have to make $10,000 through an agriculture program, complete 50 hours of community service and 360 hours of supervised classroom experience, and have received their state FFA degree.
Photos of Bohrer, Collins, Evans, Hauser and Hott at the 89th National FFA Convention and Expo.