Nearly 70,000 students nationwide attended the 91st National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis Oct. 24-27, and the Show-Me state topped the charts in several categories.
Most notably, Missouri saw 518 recipients earn American FFA degrees, the highest degree that can be bestowed on an FFA member. Missouri’s high-water mark set the bar for the conference, as less than one-half of one percent of all FFA members earn the organization’s top individual honor. American FFA degree recipients are deemed to show promise for the future and have gone above and beyond to achieve excellence in their supervised agricultural experience.
Austin Stanton (Centralia R-VI) earned the American Star Farmer award, which is presented to the FFA member who demonstrates the top production supervised agricultural experience in the nation. Stanton operates a multifaceted enterprise that sells eggs from more than 15,000 hens in mid-Missouri to neighbors, restaurants, local grocery chains and the University of Missouri dining halls. He also raises swine, grows potatoes and radishes, and operates a field-spraying service.
Two Missouri chapters picked up distinguished chapter awards, as the Marshall FFA chapter was named the 2018 National FFA Model of Excellence winner for the second straight year. The Paris R-II FFA chapter was also selected as a top 10 Model of Excellence program, with a total of 31 Missouri chapters receiving the highest available chapter rating.
Four individuals captured national championships in Agricultural Proficiency, as Jacob Blank (Richland R-IV; equine science placement), Grace Box (Neosho; specialty crop production), Brenden Kleiboeker (Pierce City R-VI; swine production placement) and Hannah Strain (Rolla 31; forage production) headlined 11 Missouri national finalists. Two additional programs in Columbia 93 (horse evaluation) and Gasconade County R-II (floriculture) received first-place finishes in the Career and Leadership Development Events category.
Nine individuals earned an honorary American FFA degree, which is made available to people who have provided exceptional service on a national level to agriculture, agricultural education or FFA. Additionally, teachers who have created high-quality agricultural education programs that inspire or motivate students to strive for success are eligible. A full list of this year’s recipients and a compilation of event results are available here.
The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 669,989 student members who belong to one of 8,630 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 459,514 alumni members in 2,236 alumni chapters throughout the United States.