UPDATE – Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018: They won! They won! Check out the West Jackson Middle School FFA Facebook page for details!
The Jackson County School System is — again — sending representatives to national competition with the FFA and celebrating more top recognitions, including those for alumni.
West Jackson Middle School’s FFA chapter will defend its standing as the nation’s Model of Excellence award winner when the FFA national conference begins Wednesday, Oct. 24. Advisor Kasey Moody will lead a group of students who will participate in a variety of activities and make a presentation before a panel of judges.
This is the fifth consecutive year the WJMS team has made the nation’s top five list. In addition to last year’s win, they took top honors in 2015. Their presentation will detail their chapter, school, and community activities over the past year.
According to the FFA, the national Model of Excellence chapters — all Three-Star Award winners — “exhibit exemplary qualities in all categories of growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture.”
Nate McKinney of East Jackson Comprehensive High School will compete for top honors in the National FFA Creed presentation contest. He won the Georgia state competition last spring to earn his place. EJCHS FFA advisors are Greg Gilman and Felipe Pedraza. Josh Whitworth is the Young Farmer advisor.
The FFA Creed, a five-paragraph, 2500-word essay, describes what FFA is all about, and begins with the words, “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds.”
In addition to those traveling to Indianapolis for the national convention, the Jackson County Comprehensive High School FFA was honored with a Three-Star National Chapter award.
The award recognizes chapters that implement the mission and strategies of the organization and provided strong educational and leadership experiences for the entire membership. According to advisors Micah Story and Dr. Shannon Lawrence, Jackson County FFA developed a program of activities that included a Teen Leadership Challenge, a “Don’t Txt and Drive” campaign, and a fund-raising drive that collected $850 to provide delivery of 30,000 pounds of food to feed more than 300 families in Jackson County.
Members also arranged for “Staying Alive,” a hands-only CPR training to be provided for every FFA member and hosted a new-member-and-parent Thanksgiving dinner, a petting zoo for special-needs children, and alumni fundraisers and livestock events.
Open to ninth-through 12th-graders enrolled in agricultural classes, JCCHS’s FFA program has Micah Storey and Shannon Lawrence as its advisors.
In addition, three graduates of Jackson County schools’ FFA programs have earned their American FFA degrees: Carlie Howington and Lexie Reynolds from EJCHS and Jessica Casaday from JCCHS.
They are among the record number of recipients across the U.S. — 4,255 in all — who have met the requirements of a supervised agricultural experiences and demonstrated their commitment to the organization. According to the FFA, fewer than 1 percent of FFA members earn the distinction, making it one of the organization’s highest honors.
Howington, who graduated in 2017, is a student at the University of North Georgia; Reynolds and Casaday, both 2016 graduates, are enrolled at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. All three are considering careers as ag educators.
The students and alumni were honored last month by members of the Jackson County Board of Education during its meeting at Gum Springs Elementary School.
The national FFA convention is set for Oct. 24-27 in Indianapolis with student and teacher workshops and activities. The schedule published by the FFA showed Middle School Models of Excellence presentations and interviews are set for Wednesday afternoon with awards announced during an afternoon session Friday, Oct. 26. Final competition in Creed is set for 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 26, with awards set for Friday evening. The American FFA Degree ceremony begins Saturday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 a.m.
RFD-TV will provide full television coverage of the convention and expo general sessions, and general sessions, including those where winners are announced, will be live-streamed on FFA.org and convention.FFA.org. For a full schedule, visit covention.ffa.org/planning/faq/ online.