"At ﬁrst I wasn't into it, the agricultural education, and I didn't understand the point of the blue jackets." Ashley said. "Mr. Vinson saw my potential and kept trying to drag me to different conferences and events held in our district. Finally he got me to go to a state convention. It was held in Fruita that year and it was there that I fell in love with FFA. My dream to become a state ofﬁcer was ignited at that convention."
Her passion for FFA, agriculture, and the organization grew. She was drawn to the leadership opportunities when she realized that the program was so diverse, so much more than raising animals and that lessons learned can apply to career skills and life.
Organized in 1928, Future Farmers of America changed its name to National FFA Organization in 1988 to reﬂect the expanding career ﬁeld of agricultural education. FFA is inner-curricular. A high school student must be enrolled in an agriculture class to participate. FFA is considered to be a three circle program. One circle represents the FFA leadership program, another, SAE - Supervised Agricultural Experience (the hands-on portion of the program), and the third circle, classroom/laboratory instruction.
SAEs are projects that need to be completed while money is earned along the way. Work experiences have ranged from raising turtles, working in a kennel, a nursery, food preparing and processing, production of animals or crops, processing, and using business skills in most any situation. Possibilities are limitless. Ashley raised market lambs during her freshman and sophomore years, then changed to a kennel.
Ashley graduated from Cedaredge High School in 2007, then attended Oklahoma Christian University with a cross-country track scholarship majoring in history and pre-law with the intention of becoming an agricultural lawyer.
Interest in FFA continued at the college level. Many members work toward their state FFA degree at this point. Ashley had already worked the needed number of hours and had raised the money required through her projects while in high school and had been awarded her degree.
Ashley belonged to the local Edmond Chapter during her freshman year of college. She volunteered with the chapter, helping students with leadership projects, record books and career development events. Her favorite event is public speaking so she helped others prepare and practice for speaking events.
"In June 2008, I was elected to the state ofﬁce of Executive Committee member." Ashley said. "Michelle Koroshetz, former classmate at Cedaredge, was elected as state recorder in that election. It's been a blessing to serve with her during the past year."
Her duties required a tremendous amount of traveling within Colorado so she took one year off from school. She traveled about 30,000 miles including working at the Colorado State Fair and the National Western Stock Show. Joining a teammate, they visited 20 chapters in the state. They conducted workshops at the schools. She attended the national convention in Indianapolis, Ind. In November 2008 she traveled to China for 10 days with the International Experience, paying her own expenses. There, they visited a beef plantation that supplies 80 percent of Beijing's beef and an ecological village powered by solar and methane gas and are completely reliant on agriculture and renewable products. Also visited were an agricultural university, a silk factory, a milk processing plant, research greenhouses and the second largest wholesale market where produce was brought in from local growers and from throughout the world. Sightseeing took them to Sian to see the terracotta army, and they climbed a section of the Great Wall, of course.
Since the ﬁrst of this year, she visited business and industry sites, attended the Governor's Ag Forum Hall of Fame banquet and prepared for state commission, a huge event, this year held in Greeley. She ended her year returning to chapter banquets.
Ofﬁcers have the privilege of honoring those who have helped them and impacted their lives along the way. Though Mr. Vinson was unable to attend the event, Ashley honored him with recognition. Ashley and Michelle recognized Eric Hollembeak, their high school basketball coach and their high school principal Kathy Perkins for supporting them throughout high school and the past two years. Both were present for the ceremony.
Ashley will return to school this fall and is looking forward to additional opportunities through FFA. Some possibilities include becoming a facilitator for workshops; running for a national ofﬁce; becoming an alumni contacting sponsors; or working on the national staff.
"I've learned so much about agriculture and its importance to every day life. I did discover that I want to become involved with agriculture in some way. I've even thought of the possibility of becoming an ag teacher instead of a lawyer. I do know that the experiences this past year have made me a better person. "I want to continue to be involved, to give back to the organization that has given so much to me."blog comments powered by Disqus