Albion student elected president of state FFA

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 May 2015 at 12:00 am

Sara Millspaugh leads organization with 4,000-plus members

Photos by Tom Rivers – Sara Millspaugh will serve as president of the FFA in New York in 2015-16. She has been president of the FFA chapter in Albion the past two years.

ALBION – An Albion student who has helped the Albion FFA chapter organize food drives, banquets, chicken barbecue dinners and other community service projects is the new leader of the state-wide FFA organization.

Sara Millspaugh wants to bring some of the successes from the Albion chapter to chapters throughout the state, while encouraging each student to pursue their potential through the many opportunities in FFA.

More than 1,000 FFA students gathered at Morrisville State College for the state convention from Thursday through Saturday. Millspaugh was elected the new state president on Friday.

“It’s about giving back to the organization,” Millspaugh said the Albion High School today.

She joined the FFA as a freshman. She didn’t grow up on a farm. But the FFA is more than traditional farming. The organization remains rooted in agriculture and teaching those skills, but it has transitioned to train students for leadership, community service, business and many other skills.

“I’m not the traditional FFA student,” said Millspaugh. “I didn’t come from a farm background.”

Her father Sam Millspaugh owns Sam & Sons, a construction company.

Sara Millspaugh, left, is pictured with Jayne Bannister. Both earned their Empire Degrees, the top honor in the FFA at the high school level.

The new FFA president is heading to Cornell University in the fall to major in agricultural business management.

She and the five other state officers will go to Camp Oswegatchie in the Adirondacks next week for five days to prepare for next school year.

Millspaugh believes her college schedule will be less demanding than in high school, where students have multiple classes each day while juggling sports and other activities.

Millspaugh and the five other state officers were interviewed for 2 ½ days last month in Syracuse by FFA delegates and adult advisors. Millspaugh emerged as the leading candidate for president.

She spoke to the 1,000-plus students during the closing ceremonies on Saturday.

Adam Krenning, the Albion FFA advisor, said Millspaugh has proven she is up for the challenge.

“She carries herself well and she includes everyone in what’s going on. Those are among her best qualities,” Krenning said. “She works well under pressure.”

The FFA chapter is busy throughout the year. It organizes a food drive each December that results in nearly 30,000 pounds of produce being donated by local farms and delivered to Community Action and other food pantries.

The chapter organizes a citrus sale and also puts on a mini-farm at the school where students can see livestock and farm machinery. The chapter also helps plan the annual Farmer to Neighbor dinner in Lyndonville, and runs other events and competitions. FFA members are busy today preparing for Tuesday’s chicken barbecue dinner with 1,300 meals.

“There are many passionate people in FFA,” Millspaugh said. “It’s an organization where you can discover yourself.”

She also earned her Empire Degree during the state convention and was awarded a gold in proficiency for an ag education focus. She job shadowed Krenning, and created workshops and lesson plans that she shared with some of the classes. Krenning said she would make a good ag teacher.

Jayne Bannister also earned her Empire Degree with a gold in proficiency for her beef and swine production. She raised the animals and tracked her expenses and assets with the livestock.

Bannister served as a district president this past year. Clara Stilwell, another Albion student, was picked for that post in 2015-16.

Bannister is heading to Kansas State University next year with a double major in animal science and ag education.

She would like to return to area and teach agriculture and lead an FFA program someday. Bannister said she is grateful for the opportunities in FFA, working with the local community and travelling throughout the state and making trips to the national convention in Louisville and Indianapolis.

“It has been amazing,” she said. “It has been experiences I will never forget that have shaped me.”

Millspaugh is the third Albion student elected among the top leaders of the FFA in the past decade. Anna Metcalf served as president in 2007-08 and Paige Levandowski was vice president in 2012-13.

“We have great kids that are motivated to get the most out of themselves,” Krenning said.

There are about 100 FFA chapters in the state, and Krenning said some nearby school districts may start programs. Albion students have met with some of the schools to help start FFA chapters.

“The FFA is producing great leaders for our country and state and more school districts are noticing that,” he said.