Missouri chapters top the carts at National FFA Convention

Missouri's Paris FFA chapter took top honors as the 2021 Model of Excellence award winner during the 94th National FFA Convention and Expo, held Oct. 27-30 in Indianapolis.

Outreach and wellness activities that represent the Model of Excellence program’s three pillars—growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture—helped Paris FFA achieve its position as No. 1 in the nation. For example, the chapter initiated the “Meals of Plenty” program in which members purchased local food grown in Amish communities, assembled meal boxes and donated them to families facing food insecurity.

“I think our Meals of Plenty program is one of the biggest projects that set us apart from other chapters,” said Paris FFA President Carlee Long. “The activities definitely helped our members become stronger individuals.”

In another show of community support, chapter members provided residents with smoke detectors as needed and worked with the local fire department to help install them to ensure safety. During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, members also launched a social media campaign called “Flamingo Farm­ing” to highlight the importance of mental health.

“The idea was that a ‘flamingo farm’ of plastic yard decor was delivered to your house, then you had 48 hours to make a social media post about what you’d been doing and things you learned over quarantine,” Long said. “We were able to stay con­nected through social media when we couldn’t be together.”

For Paris FFA advisor Josh Bondy, receiving this award rep­resents a goal 15 years in the making.

“I’m just so thankful for our kids and our community,” he said. “I’ve said it many times, but I’m lucky to get to be the advi­sor of some of the best FFA members in the country—and they earned what they’ve worked so hard for.”

Aurora and Braymer FFA chapters in Missouri were also recognized as Top 10 Chapters in the Model of Excellence competition. In the National Chapter Award program, which honors outstanding FFA groups that actively implement the organization’s mission and strate­gies, Centralia FFA was named a Top 10 Chapter in “Building Communities” while Elsberry and Mexico FFA were ranked in the Top 10 in the “Strengthening Agriculture” division.

Missouri also took home the national Outstanding Innovation Award for FFA’s Show-Me Leadership Summit, made up of six workshops hosted by state FFA officers on the topics of individ­uality, intentional leadership, teamwork, taking action, Missouri agriculture, and grit and resilience. The summit was developed in the spring of 2020 as an alternative to the traditional State FFA Camp, which was canceled due to COVID-19.

Four Missouri chapters captured national championships in Career and Leadership Development Events: North Shelby, Conduct of Meetings; Palmyra, Floriculture; Forsyth, Forestry; and Clinton, Horse. Kylie Cline of Tuscumbia, Mo., was also named the winner in the Division 5 Food Products and Process­ing Systems of the National FFA Agriscience Fair.

The Show-Me State also had two national winners of Agri­cultural Proficiency Awards, which honor FFA members for outstanding work in their supervised agricultural experiences (SAE). Students compete in areas ranging from agricultur­al communications to wildlife management. George Frees, a student at the Cass Career Center in Harrisonville, was national winner for Agriscience Plant Systems Research. He conducted experiments to investigate the effects of gibberellic acid applica­tion on ethanol production. Brett Montgomery of the Brookfield FFA Chapter was the national winner in Veterinary Science. For his SAE, Montgomery works after school and some week­ends as a veterinary assistant, performing animal examinations, prepping for surgery, administering shots and accompanying the vets on emergency farm calls.

Paxton Dahmer of Nevada, Mo., who served as FFA’s Cen­tral Region Vice President during 2020-21, ended his term as national officer during the convention. When elected, he was Missouri’s first national FFA officer in 13 years.

Overall, Missouri FFA members were awarded 539 Ameri­can FFA Degrees, the second highest number from any state in 2021. Nine Missourians were also awarded Honorary American FFA Degrees, which are given to individuals who have provided exceptional service on a national level to agriculture, agricul­tural education or FFA. This year’s recipients are Tami Craig Schilling and Erik Curry, Bayer Crop Science; Mike Deering, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association; Jill Fansler, Missouri Farm Bureau; Diane Slater, Missouri Pork Association; Gary Wheeler, Missouri Soybean Association; Amy Wieberg, FCS Financial; Jay Shepherd, agriculture teacher, Mount Vernon; and Jeff Voris, agriculture teacher, Halfway.

Leon Busdieker, longtime agricultural educator who retired in July after a decade as state advisor for the Missouri FFA Associ­ation, was presented with a VIP Citation to honor his significant contributions to the organization and agricultural education.

During the convention, the national FFA organization an­nounced that student enrollment is now more than 735,000 members from 8,817 chapters, which are located in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Missouri has 23,430 members from 351 chapters.

A full list of this year’s award recipients is available at www.ffa.org/2021-awards-results.

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