Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a four-part series covering the annual Michigan FFA Convention.
EAST LANSING, MI -- In Michigan, there are several thousand FFA members representing chapters all around the state and many of them came together for the 88th annual state FFA convention at Michigan State University on March 9-11. For eighteen of those members, the end result of their efforts and planning would be decided when the 2016-17 Michigan State FFA Officer team was announced.
The road to a state officer position is quite intense and involves paperwork, interviews and meetings, dedication to the FFA program and a supportive family. The process starts with teachers nominating students to be considered. Each chapter may be represented by two students. The students must either have been awarded the State Degree or be recommended for it, and be active, dues-paying members.
The application form includes basic information about the FFA member, a description of their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) and other activities, a personal statement concerning “Why I deserve to serve as a Michigan FFA State Officer”, and a signature sheet with approvals from themselves, their parents, teachers and the principal of the school where the chapter is located. The students also need to read and sign a Code of Conduct form.
The Code of Conduct form outlines what is expected of the members while they are serving as state officers. There are four ‘keys’ to understand including preserving the image with professionalism and positivity, a balancing act of officer responsibilities and other daily duties, growing for service with life and time management lessons, and paying it forward by serving those around them.
The applicants were invited to an interview arranged by their Region Vice-President with a nominating committee. This group was made up of five to seven members with an advisor and current FFA member included. Other interviewers may be a person involved with agribusiness, production agriculture, the Cooperative Extension Service or school administration along with an FFA Alumni member or past state officer. The interview team selected three candidates to move on to the state interviews.
The young people chosen to represent their Regions were:
Austin Haywood – Hastings, Loren King – BACC, John Williams – Olivet
Aimee Crist – Waldron, Carl Tighe – Saline, Amanda Wiel – Springport
Claire Laurenz – Breckenridge, Jose Cervantes – Ithaca, Lauren Heberling – Sanilac
Hailey Andres – New Lothrop, Josephine Forbush – Byron, Jenna Kingsley – Webberville
Chase Bos – Coopersville, Madeline Meyer – Ionia, Cassie Perrin – Coopersville
Sara Gildersleeve – Wexford Misaukee, Makayla Shaw – Standish Sterling, Courtney Wangler – Ogemaw Heights
The young people met for a weekend of interviews, meetings and group activities. By the end of the event, the slatings were set and prepared to be announced at the State FFA convention. There were two selected for the President/Vice President position with the member receiving the most votes becoming the President and the other candidate becoming the Vice-President. Secretary, Treasurer, Reporter and Sentinel positions were filled by the young person with the most votes for each of the offices. After the voting by the general assembly of members, six Region Vice-Presidents were chosen from the remaining pool of candidates.
On Thursday evening of state convention, the announcement was made and the slatings revealed. The candidates were allowed one-minute speeches on Friday morning with an additional two questions for them to answer. Voting commenced after the candidates were done speaking.
The 2016-17 Michigan State FFA Officer team was then announced with Jenna Kingsley as Sentinel; Lauren Heberling, Reporter; Jose Cervantes, Treasurer; Austin Haywood, Secretary; John Williams, Vice President; and Loren King serving as President.
The Region Vice Presidents selected are as follows: Region I, Josephine Forbush; Region II, Aimee Crist; Region III, Claire Laurenz; Region IV, Hailey Andres; Region V, Madeline Meyer; and Region VI, Courtney Wangler.