Thirteen Russell County FFA members recently attended the 93rd Kentucky State FFA Convention held in Lexington at the Central Bank Center at Rupp Arena.
The chapter started the week by receiving the State Gold Emblem. This award is given based on the entire year’s worth of participation in a variety of activities and contest designed to enhance FFA members. Only about 20% of the chapters in the state earned this award.
FFA Advisor Bethany Garmon said Russell County has achieved this honor every year for the past 20 years, and earning it is one of the primary goals at the beginning of each year.
While at convention, members heard Gov. Andy Beshear and Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles address the over 2,400 Kentucky FFA members and guests.
Both speakers stressed the importance of agriculture and influenced members to continue their FFA careers and spread their knowledge of agriculture.
To compete at the state level, FFA members have to win the region in their respective competitions, and Russell County’s members had several individuals to qualify for state and compete in Career Development and Leadership Development Events.
• Sophie Shearer in Fruit & Vegetable Impromptu Speaking
• Chloe Robertson in Horse Impromptu Speaking
• Hannah Yates in Small Animal Impromptu Speaking
• Abby Wolford in Extemporaneous Speaking
• Brandon Leach in Swine Impromptu Speaking
• Olivia Pierce in Greenhouse Impromptu Speaking
• Bryanna Smith competed in Dairy Impromptu Speaking and the Employability Contest.
Robertson and Wolford, a sophomore and junior, respectively, said they enjoyed the experience of going and competing on the state level.
“I went to [FFA camp] last year and met new people, and I got to see their faces again at state convention,” Robertson said. “I know other FFA members through my rodeo association, and one of my good friends that rodeos with me, she ran for state officer, and it was just a great moment to see her finally make it to that point. To congratulate her was great.”
“The state convention was a really good opportunity for all of us,” Wolford added. “Even if we didn’t come home with a state title, I think it was really a good experience, just leadership-wise, for us, just to put us out there and meet new people and get to make connections.”
Cass Foley, Morgan Taylor, and Jaren Fischer competed in Ag Sales Team.
Callie Reynolds was awarded the state winner plaque for being high individual in the state horse judging contest held last fall.
Reynolds said her experience winning a state title was a rewarding one, especially because she is just a freshman, and then having the chance to go to the state convention.
“I think it was a really good opportunity for me to go to state convention,” Reynolds said. “It was my first year going, and it was a really good opportunity for my first year in high school.”
The horse judging team itself came in second place and was only three points away from qualifying for nationals.
Reynolds took home the individual award with the highest score in the state.
“[Mrs. Garmon] told me I had gotten high individual, and I didn’t even know what that meant,” Reynolds said with a laugh, recalling how she found out she had won on the bus ride back home from the contest back in the fall. “So then she told me that I had won, and that’s when I realized … It was a good feeling.”
Bryanna Smith won the Dairy Impromptu Speaking Contest. This is Smith’s third state title she has earned as an FFA member. She previously won the high individual junior livestock judging state contest and the state beef impromptu speaking contest.
“I think it was pretty exciting for me because I was a junior,” Smith said, “so I had competed within a state contest three times, and I had three state titles. It’s pretty exciting that each year I’ve been able to win a state title.”
FFA members can no longer compete in the same impromptu speaking contest discipline once they become state champions.
With beef cows being her specialty — and winning that contest as a sophomore — Smith had to do plenty of research to prepare for the dairy contest.
“With a lot of things, a cow is a cow, when you talk about diseases and stuff like that,” Smith said. “At the same time, there are a lot of differences … so I did have to do a lot of studying and getting stuff together.
“I called (dairy farmers) Elise Carpenter and Dante Carpenter whenever I had questions, and they helped me learn dairy a lot, enough to go give a speech about it.”
Morgan Taylor was the third high individual overall in the Ag Sales Team Contest.
Cass Foley, Sophie Shearer, Morgan Jones, Elly Richardson, and Morgan Taylor received their Kentucky State FFA degree. Of the over 14,000 KY FFA members, only about 400 earn this degree.
“It’s an intense process,” said Shearer, who is a senior.
“The application for your state degree is almost 20 pages long — just the application,” Garmon interjected.
“So, it is a big deal,” Shearer added after outlining the tedious and time-consuming process that takes place after submitting a successful application.
For this year’s seniors, the convention was the final time being in their official FFA dress, which was a bittersweet feeling, Shearer said. That was especially true for her because this was the first in-person convention she had ever been able to attend, although she said this “was a good one to go to” and finish off her high school FFA career on a high note.
“We were [at state convention] Monday through Thursday and then we came back home and turned right back around on Friday to go to the (state semifinal) baseball game,” Shearer said, “so it really felt like that it was kind of capping off everything, just a nice way to cap off my time in FFA.
“We always have a good time together and we got to meet a lot of people and see some familiar faces, so it was a really good experience.”
The Russell County FFA Advisors are Bethany Garmon and Dustin Gosser.
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