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Missouri’s Grant Norfleet is poised to connect agriculture, industry and FFA on a grand scale.

February 20, 2024

4 Min Read
Jessica Herr placing a jacket on Grant Norfleet on a convention stage
JACKET UPGRADE: Grant Norfleet accepts his National FFA secretary jacket from his predecessor, Jessica Herr of Pennsylvania, during the National FFA Convention in November. National FFA

by Joann Pipkin

Building community. These are two words that guide FFA chapters in carrying out the mission of the National FFA Organization.

They are two words that Grant Norfleet will covet in the coming months as the Mexico, Mo., FFA member fulfills his year of service as the 2023-24 National FFA secretary.

“FFA has taught me to simply meet people exactly where they’re at for exactly who they are,” Norfleet says. “The organization has really provided a sense of comfort in getting to know folks. And that’s through community and relationship building.”

Growing the experience

Raised on a small beef cattle and row crop farm, the Audrain County native initially wasn’t sure FFA was for him.

With his dad’s encouragement, the third-generation FFA member jumped into the activities offered through his local chapter. He’s quick to credit fellow member Lauren Quinlan for solidifying his interest in the organization.

“Lauren was a great senior member and mentor to me,” Norfleet says. “We were friends from the county fair before, but during that summer, she really took me under her wing and showed me what FFA could mean for me. As I became a chapter officer going into my sophomore year, I knew that the impact and relationship I had with Lauren was what I wanted to give FFA members younger than myself.”

National FFA - Grant Norfleet, National FFA Secretary

As a freshman attending the National FFA Convention for the first time, Norfleet was in awe of the atmosphere.

“I saw David Townsend, the national president from Delaware, on stage, and that was my first experience in blue corduroy,” Norfleet explains. “I was like, ‘Man, that dude is so cool. Who is that? How did he get to do that?’ ”

Still, the most defining moment for Norfleet in deciding whether to run for a National FFA office came during his year of service as a Missouri state FFA officer.

“I really enjoyed the experience as a state officer, and I was missing wanting to give back and serve students still,” Norfleet says. “You don’t recognize what you have or the great experiences you have until you don’t have them anymore.”

In high school, Norfleet took part in showing beef cattle and built two Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects. One focused on agricultural service learning, while the other centered on agricultural services.

Norfleet’s agricultural service learning SAE helped cultivate his interest in learning and in building community with youth through a program he developed on ag literacy.

He adds that his work in ag literacy helped prepare him for the national officer selection process.

The experience connected Norfleet with others on a variety of agricultural topics he never realized were issues across the country. As it turned out, those were some of the same concerns people had at home in Missouri.

“FFA has done a really great job of not only getting me technical skills like public speaking and interviewing, but also soft, interpersonal skills,” Norfleet says. “Those will be an asset to me as I serve as a national officer.”

With a bounty of experience as a foundation, Norfleet says his role as Missouri FFA Camp director this past summer further helped develop his passion.

“Summer camp is my jam,” Norfleet says. “I love camp, and I’m so excited to see what FFA camp looks like in other states as well during my term as a national officer. I’m excited to experience the organization at a bird’s-eye level, instead of just from the experiences I’ve had in the past.”

Preparing for tomorrow

An agricultural education and leadership major at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Norfleet is preparing for a career in agricultural education and curriculum development. He looks forward to gaining a broader knowledge and understanding of classrooms across the country during his term as national secretary.

“How can we make learning more engaging?” Norfleet asks. “That’s what I want to do with my career.”

Courtesy of Grant Norfleet - Grant Norfleet posing next to a campground site sign

Norfleet will take a one-year leave of absence from his studies at MU to fulfill his national officer duties. In that role, he says his No. 1 priority is to be a voice for students, listening to their insight and input as he conducts workshops, leadership programs and attends other events across the country.

“I’m excited to see agriculture in a new lens and get to see where students are expanding their agricultural knowledge across the country,” Norfleet says. “I’m also excited to meet with industry partners that might have a different perspective on what agriculture could look like, compared to what we have here in the Midwest. I’m excited to see agriculture on a broader perspective.”

Pipkin writes from Republic, Mo.

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