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Arizona National FFA candidate: What’s inside the jacket matters

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When Bryce Cluff zipped up his Queen Creek FFA jacket for the first time he never dreamed that it would lead him on a path to becoming the 2017 Arizona National FFA Officer Candidate.

In fact, the University of Arizona junior said he didn’t join FFA because he saw a future in agriculture for himself, but rather was looking to fulfill a science credit at the time.

“We often look at the front of someone’s jacket to identify whether or not they can create an impact, but the reality is that it is the person who wears it which will decide that,” Cluff said.

Aside from driving by corn and cotton on the roadside and a brief stint raising 4-H poultry, Cluff’s passion for agriculture wasn’t ignited until he joined FFA his sophomore year of high school. From Supervised Agricultural Experience to Career Development Events, Cluff competed at the local, state, and national level in events such as Marketing Plan, Agronomy, Livestock Evaluation, and Veterinary Science. And his passion for ag grew.

Upon graduating from Queen Creek High School in 2015, he ran for Arizona FFA State Office and was elected to serve as the State FFA Vice President. During that year as a state officer, Cluff got the opportunity to travel thousands of miles across Arizona visiting with the FFA members.

Courtesy of Bryce Cluff

“Besides doing chapter visits or speaking at events, most of my passion came from the individual experiences that I would have growing alongside FFA members,” Cluff said. “I quickly grew to understand the unique attributes that every person who wears the blue jacket has, and how we can utilize them in our organization.”

That journey across the Grand Canyon State also helped Cluff narrow down his calling within the FFA and ag industry. Currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Agricultural Technology Management & Education, Cluff’s career goal is to become a high school agricultural education instructor and FFA Advisor.

But for now, Cluff is focused on the National FFA Office — a position he tried for last year. In Arizona, candidates are selected to represent over 11,000 FFA members from across the state as a National FFA Officer Candidate after they have completed an application and interview process. This year Cluff beat out two other highly qualified individuals for the state bid.

Since selected, Cluff has spent countless hours preparing. Besides studying and speaking opportunities, he has also tried to spend as much time working hands-on with FFA members as possible, learning more about the diversity of Arizona and American agriculture, and developing a deeper knowledge of the American education system.

“As a young student in FFA, some of my greatest moments of growth in this organization were facilitated by people who I looked up to,” Cluff said. “Whether it was my ag teacher, a state officer, or even a national officer, my most profound memories in the blue jacket are all associated with those people.”

Courtesy of Bryce Cluff

Cluff’s goals if elected? His first to create strong connections with all that he would meet.

“The job of a National Officer is not always with students, but the role is just as ever important,” Cluff said. “To be an ambassador for the strong beliefs that we have in this organization creates the support of sponsors, legislators, and a variety of supporters which is crucial to achieving our goal of making the positive difference in the lives of students.”

He also hopes to work alongside students from every corner of the blue corduroy nation to discover all the achievements students have made through FFA.

“As I served as a state officer I quickly realized that these positions are not positions of power by any means, but an opportunity to foster the belief in ‘Premier Leadership, Personal Growth, and Career Success’ in those around you,” Cluff said. “I hope that if selected to serve as a National FFA officer I could foster this individual growth of countless FFA members across the country, while utilizing this opportunity to grow myself continually.”

While Cluff’s ultimate goal is to serve as a National FFA Officer, he recognizes the process will also shape him as a person — regardless of the outcome.

“By telling yourself that you can only be successful if you succeed, you are risking true failure. It certainly wasn’t easy to not be elected last year, but I quickly found the small victories within the entire process and got back to work,” Cluff said. “There is not one person that does not have the ability to become a National Officer Candidate, but it is dependent on how much you are willing to learn and grow to get there.”

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of AGDAILY. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.