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JC Campbell, Little York, elected president; Paxton Morse, Eldorado, elected vice president.

Holly Spangler, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

June 16, 2016

3 Min Read

It was an emotional and highly-charged scene this week in the back of Springfield’s Prairie Capital Convention Center, where delegates representing FFA chapters from across the state gathered to elect a new team of state FFA officers. From a pool of 10 candidates for five offices, the following members emerged victorious:

-JC Campbell, Little York, president
-Paxton Morse, Eldorado, vice president
-Zach Becker, Amboy, reporter
-Corrine Harding, Farmington, secretary
-Cody Suddeth, Steward, treasurer 

“I didn’t expect this at all,” said a jubilant – and clearly surprised – JC Campbell. “After I gave my president speech, I was preparing for the vice president speech!”

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But as luck would have it, he wouldn’t need to give another speech. And even better, his buddy Paxton Morse, Eldorado, was elected vice president just moments later. The two hugged in jubilant celebration.

“He’s one of my best friends,” JC exclaimed. “I’m looking forward to keeping my brother another year!”

The team of officers typically take a year off from college studies to serve as state officers, traveling the state together and visiting chapters. JC and Paxton served as section presidents together.

JC says he’s looking forward to getting in touch with members and being a voice of advocacy. “Agriculture has its critics,” he says. “I want to spread a positive message, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.”

As the first state officer from his family, JC says his parents and sister are his biggest supporters. “It was very emotional and very cool seeing them afterwards,” he adds. “Lots of hugging and crying!”

Paxton comes to his position not from a farming background, but with plenty of family support for FFA. “My uncle encouraged me to join FFA, and my advisor said he wanted a state officer from our class,” he says. “To be here now is absolutely amazing – sweating and crying!”

Zach, the new state reporter, says he ran because he became inspired at FFA Leadership Camp. Back home, he helps on his family’s hog and grain farm. He plans to pursue a degree in ag economics at the University of Illinois after his year as a state officer ends.

Corrine was elected state secretary from the Farmington school district. She’s finished her freshman year at Illinois Central College, and says her ag teacher, Joe Webel, helped her prepare speeches and work her way through the rigorous selection process leading up the state convention election. Corrine says she also got a lot of advice from a past state officer from her school, and from their new ag teacher, Jacob Meisner, who was also a state officer.

“I’m really excited,” she says. “I think we can get a lot done and share the story of ag. My story makes it more personal.” Her story, incidentally, includes working on her family’s corn and soybean farm where, as the youngest and smallest child with two older brothers, she often found herself sent in for jobs like cleaning out grain bins.

Illinois FFA elects new state officers

CONGRATS: The new officers were all smiles and hugs, reveling in the excitement of their fellow section officers winning a state office.

Each of the young people were clearly excited to be chosen and optimistic about the fun – and work – that awaits them in the year ahead.

“I can’t wait to relate to members and inspire the members that inspire us,” Paxton concludes.

About the Author(s)

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.

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