It’s down to the final 14 in the race for the Florida FFA Association’s 2018-2019 State Officer team.
Thirty FFA members throughout the state took part in the intensive 2018 State Officer Screening Process. The two-day interview process included an individual interview, written exam, individual problem solving activity, State Degree interview, agricultural knowledge interview, and a conversational exercise.
Now the “best of the best” are eagerly awaiting election night at the 90th Florida FFA State Convention & Expo to be held June 11-15 in Orlando.
Avery Skinner is one of those FFA members vying for a spot on the state FFA team.
“I decided to continue my path in FFA after I went to my first state convention. I loved the passion that these kids, not much older than me, had for agriculture,” Skinner said. “I also loved every aspect they described about the service of a State Officer as I had grown up with the same morals.”
Skinner hails from Martin County, Florida. While she didn’t grow up on a farm, she was exposed to farm life through family in Georgia that raised chickens and cattle. Skinner said her passion for agriculture truly came about when she was 9-years-old and started sheep herding.
“I grew to love the atmosphere and being around all the animals and people related to agriculture,” Skinner said. “I joined FFA as a way to explore and learn more about how widespread agriculture is in Florida.”
Now the former South Fork FFA President hopes to take a year off from studying veterinary medicine at Auburn University to serve as an Area VI officer to help educate others about the diversity of Florida agriculture.
“If selected, some of my goals would be to simply make our area, Area 6, more known in Florida FFA,” Skinner said. “Not many people know that we produce a lot of agricultural related products on the south side of Florida.”
Skinner would definitely have that opportunity if elected. The Florida FFA State Officer team will travel 300 plus days during their year-long term. Officers will kick off their travel with BLAST Off (Building Leaders and Strong Teams of Officers) a premier conference developed and presented by National FFA for state officers to begin their year of service. Then it’s off to the NLCSO (National Leadership Conference for State Officers) conference where state officers develop their team and performance, plan and evaluate presentations, and build relationships at the local, state, and national levels. During this conference, state officers meet other officers from other states and build relationships that can last a lifetime.
During the SPC – (State Presidents’ Conference), two state officers will get to attend a week-long leadership conference in Washington, D.C. This advanced leadership training builds on the first two components of the state FFA officer continuum. In addition to leadership development, participants develop an understanding of partner relationships and the initial phase of the national delegate process.
Florida FFA State Officers also get to travel a little farther north. The Iowa Agricultural Experience, put together with the National Pork Board and the Florida Pork Improvement Group, gives Florida FFA officers an opportunity to dive into a week of production agriculture in the Midwest.
In addition to travel, the state officer team will engage with more than 60,000 students and will visit over 330 chapters across the state. They will plan and prepare 25 workshops throughout the year including the prestigious state FFA convention at the end of their term.
That’s one of the reasons Skinner has been actively trying to reach out to other FFA chapters before election.
“To prepare for this I am just campaigning and reaching out to other chapters in my area along with mentally preparing myself,” Skinner said. “I think if you are looking at being a state officer you need to start thinking and start practicing and talking to as many people as possible.”
Serving as a state FFA officer is a great honor. It’s a year-long commitment Skinner hopes she gets to the chance to do.
“Being a part of the officer team from South Fork has helped me tremendously with learning how to work with others and what it actually takes to be a leader,” Skinner said.