Agriculture Commissioner Recognizes Outstanding Tennessee FFA Students

Monday, November 18, 2013 | 02:20 pm

NASHVILLE – Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson congratulated and praised Tennessee’s outstanding agricultural students on their recent achievements at the 86th Annual National FFA Convention and Expo held earlier this month in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Tennessee’s FFA students have consistently done well over the years, but recently the quality of our students and programs have excelled at the national level,” Johnson said. “I commend and congratulate this year’s national winners. I think their success is a testament to the strength of agriculture education and FFA in Tennessee and to the agriculture teachers who are preparing them for high tech careers in the industry.”

Nearly 63,000 FFA students attended the 2013 national convention. Each year at the convention, six students are elected by delegates to represent the organization as National FFA officers. Tennessee’s own Mitch Baker was elected to the 2013-14 National FFA Officer team as national secretary.

Baker, originally from Cookeville, Tenn., is an agricultural communications and broadcast journalism major at University of Tennessee at Knoxville. As a member of the Baxter FFA Chapter, he attended Upperman High School and is a former Tennessee FFA Association secretary. Last year, he was a national finalist in the prepared public speaking career development event and a Tractor Supply Co. scholarship recipient. Upon graduation from UT, Baker hopes to serve with a mission-based organization and assist in hunger relief initiatives.

Baker is one of three national officers from Tennessee in the last five years to be chosen for this honor. National officers commit to a year of service to the National FFA Organization. Each travels more than 100,000 national and international miles to interact with business and government leaders, promote agricultural literacy and lead professional development seminars for FFA members.

Other outstanding Tennessee FFA students who won at this year’s national convention include National Proficiency Award Winners Matthew Seals from the Tazewell FFA Chapter in New Tazewell, Tenn., Forest Management and Products; Scott Crawford from the Chuckey Doak FFA Chapter in Afton, Tenn., Nursery Operations; and, Andrew Thompson of the Jo Byrns FFA Chapter in Cedar Hill, Tenn., Specialty Crop Production. 

These Tennessee FFA members were selected from among thousands of students who competed nationwide for awards in 47 areas of proficiency covering everything from Agricultural Communications to Wildlife Management. 

Tennessee’s Bryan Ownby of the Walker Valley FFA Chapter in Cleveland, Tenn. also took top national honors in the Career Development Event for Dairy Handling. Career Development Events are designed help students to think critically, communicate clearly and perform effectively in a competitive job market.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture provides more than $300,000 annually to Tennessee FFA programs from the Tennessee “Ag Tag” license plate fund and the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program to help support career development opportunities for agricultural students. For more information about agriculture education and FFA in Tennessee visit www.tnffa.org.