From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine
By ASHLEY WILLITS
New York FFA
Throughout my FFA career, I have worn many different FFA jackets, including those representing the Copenhagen and Lowville FFA Chapter’s as well as the New York State FFA Association.
Most recently I have been honored by receiving the last FFA jacket I will ever wear. This jacket doesn’t represent a single chapter or association but instead, all 649,355 FFA members across the nation.
As the 2016-2017 National FFA Eastern Region Vice President, I will spend the next year traveling more than 100,000 national and international miles to interact with business and industry leaders, FFA members, agriculture teachers and other agricultural supporters.
My team and I will lead personal growth and leadership training conferences for FFA members throughout the country and help set policies that will guide the future of FFA and promote agricultural literacy.
For the past nine years as an FFA member, I’ve seen first-hand how agricultural education and the FFA gives students confidence in themselves and allows them to develop skills to be successful in their future careers. I was able to experience growth through the blue jacket and wanted to be able to use the skills I had learned to help others grow and serve an industry that I had developed a passion for.
My training for National Office was not limited to the hours I spent training with mentors and coaches perfecting interview techniques and learning more about agriculture. My training was also real world experiences, including conversations with agriculturists, coaching FFA members and advocating for agriculture and agricultural education.
At National Convention, myself and 41 other candidates endured a rigorous interview process. The first phase of the process included a personal round introduction interview, one-on-one interviews with each member of the nominating committee, a multiple choice test, a writing sample and an extemporaneous speech.
The second phase of the interview process included three conversations with leaders in agriculture, FFA and American Education, a facilitation round where each candidate had to present a workshop to a group of students and then a final personal interview.
The moments leading up to the election of the 2016-2017 National Officer Team were extremely exciting. I remember closing my eyes right before they announced the Eastern Region Vice President and when I heard the word “new” the next thing I can remember is my fellow candidates pushing me towards the stage.
At that point, I was filled with pure excitement and shock. I don’t think I’ve ever ran so fast in my life as I ran up to the stage to meet my teammates that had already been announced. The best part was hearing my teammate’s names called and being able to share the excitement with each of them!
I am so excited for this year of service! I’m proud to be a part of the agriculture industry and the FFA. I can’t wait to experience the adventures that this year has in store for me!
Ashley Willits, of Copenhagen, N.Y., was elected Eastern Region Vice President for National FFA during the national convention held in Indianapolis Oct. 19-22. Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, six students are elected by delegates to represent the organization as national officers. Delegates elect a president, secretary, and vice presidents representing the central, southern, eastern and western regions of the country.