Nothing has been normal for Indiana’s 2020-21 state FFA officers so far. They were nominated based on virtual interviews, elected through a virtual state FFA convention and didn’t have the usual opportunity to interact with the public because there was no Indiana State Fair. But don’t underestimate them. Joe Martin says that would be a mistake. He is the program specialist with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture who works directly with each state FFA officer team during the year.
“They are all unique individuals with special talents,” Martin says. “They used their extra time when there was no state fair to be creative, learning how to share with FFA members through different technologies. I continue to be proud of what they’re accomplishing.”
The group is led by a state president who hails from a chapter less than 5 years old and includes three other members from schools who have never had a state officer, or haven’t had one in decades.
Learn more about why Martin expects big things from these individuals heading into a new year, no matter what it might bring. Check out the slideshow featuring insights into each officer’s talents and future ambitions.
This girl can speak!
You might think the odds of Julia Hamblen becoming the 2020-21 Indiana FFA president were long because she came from a school that had never offered agriculture classes or FFA in the modern era until four years ago. Even if that’s true, that’s only half the story. Add in the fact that she was diagnosed as a child with a stuttering disorder and refigure the odds!
Figure the odds of this one: She also won the Indiana FFA State Public Speaking Contest, one of the most highly prized and competitive leadership development events within Indiana FFA.
Hamblen was diagnosed with what’s called neurogenetic stuttering disorder, which manifests itself in stuttering and other ways, as well. Ten years of speech therapy helped her overcome this potential barrier.
“I just love to talk and share my beliefs with people,” Hamblen says. “I was afraid at first, but many other FFA members and my advisors have helped me along the way.”
One of her goals for the future is to become an advocate for people who face challenges like hers or other types of challenges that might normally prevent them from expressing their views. Here are odds you can take to the bank: Never count Julia Hamblen out when she sets her mind on achieving something.
Indiana FFA pays tribute to Rob Hays
The Indiana FFA lost one of its most enthusiastic supporters when Rob Hays, 32, died unexpectedly from cardiac arrest on Sept. 20. Hay was the Indiana FFA executive director and part of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.
Originally from Kentland, Ind., and South Newton High School, he served as an Indiana FFA state officer in 2006-07. He was the vocational-agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Warsaw High School from 2011 to 2015, at which time he joined ISDA as Indiana FFA assistant director.
TRAGIC LOSS: The Indiana FFA family and all of agriculture were saddened by the death of Rob Hays, Indiana FFA executive director, on Sept. 20.
Hays’ passing leaves a void in many hearts and lives, including those of the current Indiana FFA state officers, already battling the challenges of serving during a pandemic when many live events were canceled.
Working with Hays’ parents, the Indiana FFA set up a scholarship to honor his memory. You can contribute and help keep his memory alive by sending a check to: Indiana FFA Foundation, P.O. Box 9, Trafalgar, IN 46181. Note “Rob Hays Scholarship” in the memo line on your check.