Farm Progress

Sophia Hortin, Fisher, is elected president; Eliza Petry, Rochelle, is elected vice president.

3 Min Read
2018-19 STATE OFFICERS: Sophia Hortin (left), president; Eliza Petry, vice president; Shaylee Clinton, reporter; Miriam Hoffman, secretary; and Taylor Hartke, treasurer, make up the new Illinois FFA state officer team.

Springfield’s Capital Convention Center radiated with energy as FFA chapter delegates from across the state of Illinois gathered and elected a new state FFA officer team this week.

Elections started with 20 candidates for five available offices, and the delegates elected the following new officers:

• Sophia Hortin, Fisher, president
• Eliza Petry, Rochelle, vice president
• Shaylee Clinton, Ina, reporter
• Miriam Hoffman, Earlville, secretary
• Taylor Hartke, Teutoplis, treasurer

“I can’t wait to be bold with you guys this year and make a difference for agriculture, for FFA and for everyone in our lives,” said a thrilled Sophia Hortin, just moments after receiving the majority vote for president.

Hortin will help Illinois FFA members realize their potential, just like Kade Hill, 2015-16 state FFA president, did for her during freshman FFA Creed speaking. “He told me, ‘You can achieve any goal you set your mind to,’ and here I am today,” she said. “I discovered early on that I have a heart for service in this organization because of what it’s done for me and what I see it do for others. I knew it was more than worth it.”


BE BOLD: New state FFA President Sophia Hortin, Fisher, Ill., encouraged FFA members to “be bold” during her presidential election speech. “I can’t wait to be bold with you guys this year.”

Moments later, Eliza Petry crossed the stage as the 2018-19 Illinois state FFA vice president. “Thank you so much Illinois FFA,” she said. “I’m so excited for this year.”

Petry wants every young FFA member to know that someday, they could be standing in her shoes. “It feels like seconds ago I was in that seat where you are as a Greenhand, feeling the same exact way,” she said, adding that she remembers watching the state officers during her first experience at state convention as an FFA talent participant. “Something in my soul was uplifted,” she said. “I wanted to be one of those people.”

Shaylee Clinton, the new state reporter, also has her sights set on helping young FFA members achieve their goals. Clinton’s sister encouraged her to join FFA, and her advisors “pushed” her into public speaking early on.

“I got over a speech impediment and a stutter and found a love for public speaking,” she said. She decided to take her FFA experience to the next level while helping at leadership camp. “That’s the moment I realized I wanted to keep doing this and keep helping kids and changing lives.”

Secretary Miriam Hoffman thanked her family — including her mom, Winifred Hoffman, and her brothers — in advance for milking her cows for the next year. The state officer team will put their collegiate careers on hold for a year as they travel more than 20,000 miles visiting FFA chapters around the state, conducting workshops and representing Illinois FFA. Hoffman says her late father, Kenneth, inspired her to run for a state office. “He was a state Star Farmer when he was in FFA, and he ran for state officer, but he didn’t win,” she said. “I think it’s so cool that I’ve achieved that dream now.”


A BREAK FROM THE 4-PACK: Taylor Hartke, Teutoplis, Ill., says she’s been a team member for her entire life as the youngest Hartke quadruplet. She plans to apply that same team-player attitude toward her next year as a state officer. “When we work together, we will accomplish so much more.”

Rounding out the five-woman officer team, Taylor Hartke, state treasurer, can’t wait to take her “positive attitude” to FFA chapters near and far. “I look forward to getting to know each and every one of you,” Hartke said.

This is the first time in the Illinois FFA’s 90-year history that an all-female team was elected.

Hortin, the seventh female state president, could barely contain her excitement for the future. “This is so awesome; I can’t wait for the year to come.”

About the Author(s)

Jill Loehr

Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer, Loehr

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like