BROOKINGS, S.D.- FFA State Officers serve in one of 6 positions- president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, sentinel, or reporter. The duties differ between the jobs, but all develop life and leadership skills.
We caught up with the 2021-2022 State Officers at the South Dakota State FFA Convention to hear how the year went.
“I think it’s been quite amazing meeting people from all over the nation, throughout our state, getting to talk to members, see what their experience in agriculture has been. It’s just been a really great opportunity. Eye opening, like getting to network with those people as well as growing in my leadership skills and my public speaking skills, and just all the skills that we grow each day is just quite incredible,” explains Paige Lehrkamp, SD FFA State Treasurer for the 2021-2022 year.
State officers and FFA members get opportunities to advance their agriculture contacts and careers throughout the state conference.
“Throughout being an officer, especially, you get to meet people that are going to help you all throughout the industry your whole life. I’ve grown up in the ag industry, but even now I know more and more people,” Lehrkamp adds. “Every single day I get to meet more people that are going to help further my career options when I go out into the industry, and I think that’s really important. Just knowing people, and everybody says that it’s not necessarily what you know but who you know. So I think that’s really important in helping us grow those networks and even for people that aren’t officers or just FFA members in general, they can grow their network by going to every single event they go to.”
Even after aging out of FFA, the skills and friendships developed by the organization and agriculture classes can keep students involved.
“Now, I have the opportunity to volunteer with organization and so at state convention here this weekend, I get to help with the backstage things and so one of our main goals and one of my jobs is to do all the graphics that go up on the screens behind the stage, all the music. I work on that backstage to make sure everything runs smoothly,” says Sadie Vanderwal, former South Dakota FFA State Officer.
In fact, many state officers go on to continue serving with FFA at events and in their communities.
“I think the FFA organization as a whole is really big on community service and we see that after your time in the organization. A lot of our state officers are now serving on stage crew. Most of the volunteers in our organization for the state convention side, it’s all past state officers, or past people who have been in leadership positions. So I think that part’s really cool that that organization gives to us. We’re able to continue to get back after we’re done, too,” Vanderwal adds.
Of course, being an FFA state officer influences the college and career paths of students.
“I originally started out as an animal science major, thought I wanted to go on to vet school, but then I decided that I wanted to go in the industry and management route,” explains Hadley Stiefvater, South Dakota FFA State Secretary for the 2021-2022 year. “So that’s why I picked up an ag leadership major, which goes kind of with state office helping to grow the workplace, kind of more of the management side. And then the ag business is pretty diverse. I can use that however I end up in a career.”