Steve Hickey will retire as the executive director of the Indiana FFA after the state fair. He received accolades at the Indiana FFA state convention this week, including numerous standing ovations and a curtain call form the audience.
The Indiana FFA Association presented him with the VIP award, reserved for only those who already have an honorary state degree and a distinguished service award. It was presented by the 2014-12015 state FFA officers.
Ted McKinney, head of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, presented Hickey with a special award during the Wednesday night session. Hickey, a former state officer himself, on behalf of Governor Mike Pence, named Hickey a "Sagamore of the Wabash." It can be given only by the governor, and only to people with very high qualifications.
Based on Indiana heritage, the proclamation includes reference to the governor calling on the recipient for guidance and counsel due to their knowledge and wisdom.
Hickey taught at Shenandoah High School for 33 years, forming it into one of the premier vo-ag programs and developing an outstanding FFA program. Nearly half of the students at this small rural school in Henry County take vo-ag, largely due to his influence.
During the last 5 years he has served the Indiana FFA Association as the top leader. He was the first person named to this post when it was included as part of the Indiana Department of Agriculture under the close watch of Governor Mitch Daniels and Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman.
His accomplishments include helping Indiana FFA top out at over 11,000 members this year. That is the highest number of FFA members in Indiana in 25 years.
He will be succeeded by Tami Neighbors, current assistant and FFA executive secretary, and a former ag teacher at Mt. Vernon High School in Hancock County. ISDA is currently interviewing applicants for her position.