What’s happening with Whitney: 5th edition

Whitney Winter, Staff Writer

In high school, I was a member of the National FFA Organization, and still am, but on Sept. 14 at 1:19 p.m. I received a text message from my FFA advisor, Shawna Houdek, that said I had received my American Degree. I was ecstatic because the American Degree is the highest achievement given by the National FFA Organization. I had put in endless hours working on my llama and alpaca farm operation, my start-up mowing business at Ely Farms and at the Clay County News.

Who knew that when I started my own mowing business for my Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) in seventh grade I would be pursuing agricultural communications and leader as a sophomore in college? FFA is a door to an entire world, all you have to do is step through it. FFA is a stepping stone to a career that may take you to another country or simply another county.

I first joined FFA as a seventh grader and was active in my chapter throughout my middle and high school careers. I competed at the district and state level throughout my years. I have attended state and national convention. I competed in meats, land, and livestock judging and agriculture demonstrations.

For my American Degree, I had to complete an extensive checklist. One of the biggest hurdles is having to wait until you are finished with one full year of a postsecondary agricultural program. At the end of last year, I submitted my application to the National FFA Organization. To qualify I had to earn my State FFA Degree, record over 50 hours of community service, which was super easy, be a high school graduate and be an FFA member for at least three full consecutive years. There are more items on the checklist but I will not bore you with the small details.

Throughout my four years of high school and two years of FFA I recorded over 162 hours of community service, and several more I did not record for my FFA record book.

My entrepreneurship SAEs consisted of Winter Mowing and Winter Wonderland (my llama and alpaca farm). Those were not the only two SAEs I kept records on. I also had two placement and foundational (exploratory) SAEs. These included two businesses near my hometown, Ely Farms, based in Grafton, NE, which is an asparagus farm which started as an FFA SAE, and the Clay County News, the local newspaper based in Sutton, NE. Winter Mowing and Ely Farms were both seasonal jobs while I worked year around on my farm.

This national organization gave me the chance to explore the world of agriculture beyond the farm I grew up on. I enjoyed FFA and agriculture so much I am continuing my secondary education in agricultural communication and leadership. The national organization has allowed me to become a great leader and public speaker.

That is all for today, see you here next week.