Seven high school graduates made a decision this past June to run for a position as an Indiana FFA state officer. If successful, they knew they would lay out of school for a year and dedicate all their time, or almost all their time, to serving the Indiana State FFA, now over 10,000 members strong.
You've likely seen the state officers at various functions. But who trains them? Who molds them into a team that can live in the same house together for an entire year? It's not a reality show, it's real life, and these students are expected to be exceptional role models and representative of FFA all year long for other members and for community and industry people they might contact during the year.
Actually, the answer is that several people help shape them. Their advisors have already laid a solid foundation or in most cases, they would not have been selected by the nominating committee and elected by delegates at the State FFA Convention. Once elected, the person directly responsible for their day-to-day training and schedules is Joe Martin, FFA program specialist. A former ag teacher at Tri-County High School near Wolcott, he now has the responsibility for showing new officers the ropes, and heading them in the right direction each year.
Steve Hickey, director of the Indiana FFA Association and part of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, also helps work with these young people. He plays a big role during the state fair, which takes about a month to set up, man the FFA Pavilion during the fair, and then tear down after the fair. He also interacts with the officers at various activities during the year.
Coty Back, his assistant and a former Kentucky state FFA officer, also provides guidance to help these young people develop content for the workshops they lead for members.
Lisa Chaudion, Foundation Executive Director, was in charge of them recently at the Farm Progress Show. She worked with them to help raise about $40,000 for the Indiana FFA Foundation during the show through a benefit auction.