During the National FFA Convention, chapters from across the country come together to meet new people and explore what other members and chapters are accomplishing. One of the accomplished chapters at the 2018 National FFA Convention was the Marshall FFA Chapter from Missouri. Marshall FFA, along with many other chapters, had worked hard all year to represent their chapter at national convention. Their hard work paid off when they received the Model of Excellence award at the 91st National FFA Convention and Expo.
According to the FFA website, the National FFA Model of Excellence chapter exhibits exemplary qualities in all categories of growing leaders, building communities, and strengthening agriculture. Chapters are rewarded for providing educational experiences for the entire membership.
We wanted to know how much hard work, dedication, and planning goes into becoming a Model of Excellence chapter. One of the Marshall FFA advisers, Tyler Burgin said, “When we began pursuing the Models of Excellence award, we made a change to our Program of Activities and how we plan for our year. We currently have 11 different courses offered a year (some courses offered more than once a day), and each course makes up a committee within our POA.”
As one of three advisers, Burgin tries to diversify many of the POAs to challenge the chapter with 171 member chapter. Burgin continued, “Having this ownership of individual activities really added meat to our program of activities with students not only taking ownership of each activity but recruiting other members to make sure their events were well attended.”
Emily Reed, another adviser for Marshall FFA, said it takes the student to be dedicated and involved for this to be possible. She said, “What is really cool about this chapter is how much the students are involved! They help plan, organize, and conduct the activities. This organization really is student led. I am proud of all of my students and their accomplishments! It is fun to watch them grow into leaders and begin to be an influence in their community. ”
We wanted to know what made the Marshall FFA Chapter different. Adviser Morgan Borts said, “The Marshall FFA Chapter plans activities a bit different than most other chapters. Each class is a committee and is in charge of planning and running specific activities that fall under that committee’s area. For example, the conservation class was in charge of the avian flu testing activity. Each year, the chapter comes up with new ideas that fit into the diverse categories of the program of activities.”
One of their projects, Swab to Save, is an opportunity the Marshall FFA Chapter had due to their location. In their conservation natural resource class, a local game warden spoke with the students to peak an interest in future careers. When talking about checking deer for chronic wasting disease and waterfowl for avian flu, something struck a chord. Burgin said, “Students took an interest in this and wanted an opportunity to help with the testing. Students were able to serve breakfast to hunters and get them to take a minute of their time after their hunt to test their birds. Each student was also able to test at least one duck for avian flu.”
Member of Marshall FFA Chapter, Paige Durham said the moment they received the award was the best feeling in the world. “We worked so hard for so long and to just hear our name on that stage was just an incredible feeling. I know we were all nervous and our hearts were racing, but after hearing our name being called, we were just overwhelmed with happiness.” Durham, along with classmate Gracyn Bristow and two others, had spent months of morning practices preparing for the presentation. They practiced the speech day after day until they had it perfect.
The Marshall FFA Chapter is constantly evolving. Burgin said, “I’m proud to say that after last year’s Models of Excellence award, our officers wanted to completely redo our activity list and of the activities we highlighted in our presentation, only two were repeats from the previous year.”
In addition to the excellence award, the Marshall FFA Chapter works hard at many other projects. They were also selected as a top 10 Premier Chapter. Borts, said. “The activity that was selected was called 21 Day Habits, where students and staff were asked to practice healthier habits. It takes 21 days for something to become a second-nature routine, so it was the hope of the chapter that participants would pick up some healthy habits during the holidays.”
Evan Sappington, presenter for Premier Chapter said, “We spent weeks of practice, whether it be working on memorization or hand gestures. We also went to several local businesses to present our activity.” Evan said this was his first national convention experience, but will not be his last.
Borts said, “We are lucky to have students who know the expectations are set high and who want to rise up to meet those expectations. We also have a community that is willing to support us 110% and that is something every chapter needs to be successful. We are very thankful for that.”
Marshall FFA Chapter is constantly changing and evolving with the students and advisers at the steering wheel. We love discovering chapters who put in the extra effort to develop the future leaders of agriculture.