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Ryan Williamson on FFA: Instilling service and personal value


From small-town FFA member to state president and now that National FFA Western Region Vice President, Ryan Williamson found value in the program and, more importantly, in himself as he served others in his community and FFA. Today, Williamson hopes to share the lessons he learned from the National FFA Organization with fellow members across the country.

“When starting my FFA career, I couldn’t have imagined how much this organization would help me become the person I am today,Williamson said. Through FFA’s mission, teachings from trusted advisors, and support from my fellow members, I’ve been given the opportunity to truly make an impact on Texas and now other FFA students across the nation. I’m humbled to represent Texas and the Western Region as Vice President and hopefully inspire other FFA members like myself to achieve their potential and become servant leaders and powerful advocates.” 

Image courtesy of Ryan Williamson

Williamson didn’t grow up directly in agriculture but adjacent to it in El Campo, Texas, a small row-crop farming community where rice was the primary commodity. The son of a school librarian and police officer, Williamson gained his first experience in the agricultural industry with his grandfather — an agricultural mechanic.

Later, Williamson joined the El Campo FFA as a freshman in high school after being invited as what he calls a “quiet freshman who was questioning his self-worth.” Williamson quickly went from raising rabbits and poultry in his backyard to earning four FFA awards and placing in the top 10 of six FFA state contests. Many of Williamson’s projects were outside of his chapter’s traditional realm, but he encourages other students to do the same.

“To anyone looking to get involved in FFA, don’t be afraid to say yes to opportunity,” Williamson said. “Think about what your interests and your goals are, and carve your own path in FFA.” 

Image courtesy of Ryan Williamson

One of the most integral parts of Williamson’s family, life, and FFA journey is service — a value his family (who was preparing to serve a community Thanksgiving meal this recent holiday season instead of enjoying a meal at home) initially instilled in him. As a senior at El Campo FFA, Williamson began working on converting a trailer into a bookmobile — something the small community needed during the summer months when students didn’t have access to school libraries. 

“My chapter always had some community initiative — whether it was a food drive or cleaning up an area in the community, which expanded my outlook on service,” said Williamson. “My senior year of high school, I coordinated with the librarians in the school district to create an auto bookmobile  — it’s now an ongoing project in my community.” 

Image courtesy of Ryan Williamson

Now a junior at Texas A&M University, Williamson is studying in the Business Honors Program. Upon graduation, he hopes to work in international agricultural policy. He will take a year-long break from his life in College Station to share the impact that the FFA Organization had on his life as a National FFA Officer. He said, “I’m grateful to be able to make that sacrifice. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have an impact on something that influenced me.” 

As a 2022-23 National FFA Officer, Williamson will dedicate one year of service in local, state, national, and international capacities alongside the rest of the National Officer Team. Williamson will represent the Western Region facilitating leadership workshops for FFA members, representing student membership during meetings with the National FFA Board of Directors, and delivering motivational speeches as an advocate for FFA on a global scale. 

“Officers that came before me helped me to find direction and confidence. Many students are still discovering who they are, what they bring to the table, and what they can contribute to agriculture. Whether students are involved in production agriculture or living within the city limits, each one of us can be agriculturalists and bring value to agriculture. Now, I get to be that person for students across the nation.”

Trainings will begin in December, and starting in February, national officers will begin interacting with students during National FFA Week. 

“I had four ag teachers, and each of them, throughout my journey, pushed me in a different way. These were the people that really influenced me to explore and pursue a career in agriculture. It feels really good to look back and see how many people helped to encourage me to explore a future in agriculture. I wouldn’t be here today without those people,” Williamson said. “Now, I’m going to really get to influence students to find their way in agriculture. FFA helped me to not only find direction, but confidence in the person that I already was.”

Each state FFA association is eligible to submit one individual member annually, resulting in 35 members up for national office positions at the 95th National FFA Convention and Expo. Williamson, along with his peers, completed an arduous selection process, which included a series of evaluated interviews, speeches, and workshops with a nominating committee. National officer candidates must be active FFA members, retain active membership through their term of office, and hold the American FFA Degree at the time of election, the highest degree achievable in the FFA. 

“Our goal in FFA is to grow the next generation of leaders who are ready to make an impact, and we are incredibly proud to have Ryan represent El Campo and the Texas FFA as a national leader,” said Jennifer Jackson, Texas FFA Association executive director. “We’re excited to see what he will accomplish during this next year of commitment and service.”

The next class of National FFA Officers will be elected at the 96th National FFA Convention and Expo in 2023. 

Heidi Crnkovic, is the Associate Editor for AGDAILY. She is a New Mexico native with deep-seated roots in the Southwest and a passion for all things agriculture.

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The views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of AGDAILY.