NU senior named as FFA state secretary
During her Nevada Union High School career, graduating senior Kaytlin Smith had held just about every level of office within California’s FFA program.
She’s made the progression from serving as a chapter officer, to section and then onto a regional office.
But, as of last week, Smith now can add state officer to her resume, as she has earned the title of state secretary, marking the first time in 22 years that a Nevada Union student has been elected to a state FFA office.
In fact, Smith is just the fifth student in the history of NU to hold such a position. This year, she is one of the six student members, who were chosen out of the 64,000 FFA student members in California, to become officers.
“Every year the California association of FFA has a new set of state officers,” said Karen Henderson, Nevada Union FFA advisor and teacher. “They travel throughout the state to chapters, they do workshops. It’s a full-time job throughout the year.
“The people who are elected are graduating seniors. Instead of going to college, they take their first year off college to travel the state. All their expenses are paid for. But basically, they are giving their time.
“(Smith) is very giving of herself. She sacrifices her time for others and she is a top leader.”
Smith said once she graduates in June, she will start traveling the world, visiting colleges and universities, promoting FFA and agricultural education.
“I have always raised animals and getting involved in FFA brought new leadership opportunities that I could experience in high school,” she said. “I have gone to so many different conferences that have offered valuable leadership skills.”
Smith’s father, Chuck, a former FFA member and currently a teacher at Lyman Gilmore School, was ecstatic with his daughter’s achievement.
“This is an unexpected thrill for us,” he said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity. People think of FFA as being all about farming, but it involves public speaking, political activism, all different realms of education of people in agriculture research and products. Her job will be to spend the next year learning, educating, and promoting agriculture to youth in California and all over the world.”
It’s not as though traveling will be a new role for Smith. She and about 50 of her fellow FFA members at Nevada Union head out on road trips practically every weekend for competitions.
NU’s chapter criss-crosses the state to compete in areas such as forestry, agriculture mechanics, horticulture and livestock judging. Those trips mean the chapter members often find themselves logging many miles and hours on the road to cities like Fresno, Chico, Davis and Merced.
This weekend, 20 members are headed for a state competition in San Luis Obispo.
Many of the local chapter members are not only active in competitions across the state, but also locally at the Nevada County Fair each August. NU members also perform volunteer work as a community service, including an annual Farm Days event at Nevada City Elementary School. Members of the horticulture studies program operate a greenhouse and sell bedding plants they’ve grown.
“Everything we try do education-wise is pretty much a hands-on learning experience,” said Henderson.
The local chapter, which was started at NUHS in the late ’50s by former local and state adviser Jerry Davis, includes 385 members. The California chapter, which includes 64,000 members, is one of the top five membership states, which also includes Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio
The national organization, which includes nearly a half million members in its agricultural science education program, was founded in 1928 in Kansas City, Mo. Once known as “Future Farmers of America,” the organization’s name was changed to The National FFA Organization in 1988.
For more information on FFA, visit the Web site http://www.ffa.org.
To contact staff writer Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros@ theunion.com or call 477-4229.
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