February 2014
Youth Matters

The FFA Sentinel: National FFA Convention

  More than 700 FFA members, advisors and guests attended the National FFA Convention. Some attendees were unable to be present for the State Photo due to overlapping events.

Harris Elected to National Office

The 86th Annual National FFA Convention and Expo was held October 30-November 2, 2013 in Louisville, Ky., at the Kentucky Exposition Center. More than 62,000 members, advisors, parents and supporters attended. Alabama had more than 750 attendees participating in competitions, workshops, convention sessions and other activities.

Congratulations to Wiley Bailey, 2013 Southern Region Vice President, for an outstanding year of service to members across the country.  

Representing Alabama as delegates included the six state officers: William Norris, president; Bailey Sims, vice president; Hayden Whittle, secretary; Shelby Windham, treasurer; myself and Alyssa Hutcheson, sentinel, as well as the three District Presidents: Valerie White, North; Brittany Taylor, Central; and Kaleb Richard, South; and two District Vice-Presidents: Cody Maddox, North; and Blair Hendricks, South.

On Tuesday, we began the official delegate process. We attended our delegate training sessions as well as the Welcome to Louisville Luncheon where we heard from Greg Fischer, mayor of Louisville; Dr. Steve Brown, National FFA Advisor; and David Beck, Executive Vice President of The Kentucky Farm Bureau.

After lunch, we attended our assigned committee meetings. The six committees included FFA Image and Branding; Agricultural Education as a Career; Integration of the Agriculture Industry; The Role of FFA in Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; Enhancing SAE Involvement; and the Promotion of Agricultural Literacy.

Throughout the day, we attended delegate hearings and meetings, and we closed the day with a dinner sponsored by Wrangler.

On Wednesday, we attended public hearings and our final committee meetings as well as another delegate luncheon sponsored by BASF, Elanco, UPS and Wrangler.


  Congratulations to Jackson Harris, 2014 Southern Region Vice President, from the Eufaula Chapter.

One special event occurred on Wednesday evening when we attended a dinner sponsored by the Alabama Farmers Federation. In attendance were Jimmy Parnell, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation; Paul Pinyan, executive director of the Alabama Farmers Federation; Jennifer Himburg, director of Alabama Young Farmers; State Senator Bill Holtzclaw; State Representative Alan Boothe; Dr. Philip Cleveland, director of Career Technical Education; Jeff Newman, State School Board; and Kib Mckibbens, Governor Bentley’s Office, as well as the members of the Alabama Delegate Body: Philip Paramore, executive secretary; Jacob Davis, advisor; and Dr. Chris Kennedy, Central District Specialist. This dinner provided the delegates the opportunity to voice the importance of agriculture education and FFA for the lives of today’s youth. The delegates learned from our special guests more about the impact of agriculture on Alabama and how important political support is for the industry. Afterwards, the delegates attended a concert with performances by Dierks Bentley and Jana Kramer.

On Thursday, the delegates attended General Session 1C, the two Delegate Business Sessions, as well as taking the State Photo. Thursday concluded official delegate business. Over the course of the sessions, special guests included Joe Torrillo, New York Fire Department; Rick Pitino, renowned basketball coach; Katie Pratt, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance; and Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education.

On Saturday morning in the Eighth General Session, we watched as over 3,000 FFA members received their American Degrees and as the Stars Over America Finalists were recognized.

There were seven American Degree recipients from Alabama: James Alford, Samson Chapter; Jackson Harris and Zach Padgett, Eufaula Chapter; Cameron Hill and William Perry, Skyline Chapter; Logan McCord, Marbury Chapter; and Josh Williams, Douglas Chapter. Congratulations to Buster Padgett and Michael Counts for having two American Degree recipients each and to each advisor with an American Degree Recipient.

National Career Development Event participation resulted in two gold, four silver and seven bronze awards from Alabama. National competition is tough! The two gold-ranking chapters were Mary G. Montgomery in Agriscience Technology & Mechanical Systems and Oak Grove in Forestry. Oak Grove placed seventh! The silver-ranking chapters were Wetumpka (William Norris) for Extemporaneous Speaking; Cherokee (Nikki Giba), Prepared Public Speaking; Lawrence County, Poultry; and Pleasant Valley, Nursery-landscape. The bronze-ranking chapters were Enterprise, Parliamentary Procedure; Horseshoe Bend, Meats Evaluation; Hartselle. Livestock; South Baldwin, Horse; Pleasant Valley, Floriculture; Albertville, Dairy; and Jacksonville (Alexis Paige), Creed Speaking. Congratulations to all these winners. These chapters and individuals represented Alabama well. Thank you to each member, advisor and coaches.

Congratulations to State Staff member and State Advisor Jacob Davis for being elected as president-elect of the National Association of Supervisors of Agriscience Education and as a member of the National FFA Board of Directors. Davis is already currently serving on the National FFA Foundation Board.

The Alabama FFA Association is very proud of the outstanding year of service from retiring National FFA Southern Region Vice President Wiley Bailey of the Sank Rock Chapter. He did an amazing job at entertaining and inspiring everyone at the National Convention. I was proud that one of the best retiring addresses at convention was delivered by a member from Alabama.

The Alabama FFA Association is also extremely proud of Jackson Harris of the Eufaula FFA for being named Southern Region Vice President. The following is an excerpt from a news release about his election:

As a freshman at University of Alabama, Jackson Harris sought one of about 30 spots in the University Fellows Experience, a program that fuses high academic standards with a passion for community service.

He was asked during the interview process to identify his strengths he would be able to bring to the group over his 4 years in college.

His answer?

"Well," he said. "I restore antique tractors."

After a polite exchange of quiet smiles and chuckles, Harris explained about his experience in FFA. He told the panel, despite the fact he didn’t grow up on a farm, through FFA he learned the difference between an alternator and a radiator, and much more. He shared times when he and his 10-member tractor team would spend countless hours in the school’s shop restoring every inch of machines manufactured and used in American fields for decades before they were born.

The passion he conveyed to the panel was overwhelming.

"Looking back, I wouldn’t change the answer I gave that day," Harris said. "From that little tractor restoration team, I found within myself an ability to see things not as they are but as they can be."

Harris was elected to the 2013-14 National FFA Officer Team as Southern Region Vice President at the 86th National FFA Convention & Expo….

Originally from Eufaula and a community development major at the University of Alabama, Harris served his Eufaula FFA chapter as secretary and president. He was vice president of the Alabama FFA Association. Harris won several honors as a member of his chapter’s FFA string band and quartet at district and state level competitions.

In 2008, his team was named National Grand Champion of the Delo Tractor Restoration Competition, an honor that opened the door to represent Chevron Delo Lubricants as a promoter at the World Ag Expo in California later in his high school career. The Eagle Scout was also involved in the Student Government Association at Eufaula High School….

After graduation from the University of Alabama, Harris hopes to stay in his home state and serve Alabama citizens – especially those living in poverty – by equipping rural communities with opportunities for economic and creative growth.

"I hope to promote premier leadership, personal growth and career success as a national officer at conventions and conferences across the country," he said. "I look forward to welcoming members and encouraging them to share their passions and experiences for agriculture."

On behalf of the Alabama FFA Association, we sincerely thank each advisor and supporter of the FFA for providing this and many more opportunities to help members realize their fullest potentials.

Kelsey Faulkner is Alabama’s FFA Reporter.