I remember walking alongside Kayla Hoenert and her mom on a warm June afternoon two years ago, just after she and her teammates were elected Indiana FFA state officers. We were head to the Indiana FFA Memorial in front of the Ag Administration building for the first official FFA state officer photo. It's a rite of passage for every FFA team.
I had some idea what she was getting into because my son, Daniel, was a state officer a few years ago. Whether Kayla did or not is hard to say. What's easy to say is she made the most of her opportunity.
Kayla showed up on the same podium as Purdue College of Agriculture Dean Jay Akridge, the heads of two huge companies, and Purdue president and former governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels at the groundbreaking ceremonies for the two new Purdue University Animal Sciences Buildings. Both will be built at the same time as part of the animal science complex.
Hoenert was chosen to represent the current Purdue animal science student body, and spoke to the crowd jammed inside the tent, awaiting the groundbreaking ceremony.
The Purdue sophomore is in Animal Sciences, and one day hopes to study down the street from the new complex at the Purdue School of Vet Medicine.
"I told my mom in fifth grade that I wanted to be a vet," she says. "Mom said then I better start studying hard. She knew what she was talking about.
"She also said you will need to go to Purdue. She was right about that too."
Hoenert took a one-year detour after high school to serve as an FFA officer. Her speaking skills made it easy to see why she was chosen to represent Animal Science at the event. She's come a long way since she and six other recent high school graduates wearing corduroy jackets hiked across the campus where she now resides.