Local FFA students shine at National Convention

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 November 2014 at 12:00 am

Albion and Medina kids compete in Louisville

In May, Jack Hill won the state FFA competition for delivering the junior creed speech. Hill was an eighth grader when he delivered the 2 ½ minute speech at the State Convention, which was hosted by Medina.

Jack Hill

His success earned him a trip to the National Convention in Louisville, Ky. Hill earned a bronze award, competing against the state champs from around the country.

He needed to memorize the creed and be ready to answer questions from the judges.

Jack was the first Medina student to compete at nationals “in a very long time,” said Todd Eick, the Medina FFA advisor.

Eick and four other students joined Hill at the convention, which they compared to a massive pep rally for agriculture. About 60,000 students were in Louisville from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 for the event.

“You can’t begin to describe the energy of 64,000 kids wearing blue jackets and cheering for agriculture,” Eick said. “It’s definitely been a motivation for the kids that went and have gotten back. They have a different drive.”

Albion sent 10 students and two advisors to the National Convention. Jayne Bannister competed in the extemporaneous speaking competition and finished in the top 20, good for a bronze award.

Jayne Bannister

Jayne, an Albion senior, spoke about the role the United States can play in food production and food security in the future. She sees American farmers sharing good agriculture practices with other countries, including in Africa, to help boost yields and preserve farmland.

She said a growing world population, with a shrinking land mass for food, poses a great challenge to farmers. She thinks the agricultural industry will meet the needs in the future.

“We have to be more efficient and smarter in providing food for the world,” she said.

Jayne has been accepted to Kansas State University, where she plans to double major in animal science and agriculture education. Her family runs a beef and fruit farm in Point Breeze.

Jayne felt drawn to Kansas, the second leading state for beef.

“There are cows everywhere,” she said about the landscape at K State. “It felt like home away from home.”

Another Albion FFA member was recognized at the National Convention. Paige Levandowski is a junior at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, studying agriculture education. She wants to be an ag teacher, and would welcome the chance to return to Orleans County to help with an FFA program.

Paige Levandowski

She earned her American Degree through FFA. It was a continuation of her Empire Degree with a focus in equine science and management. Levandowski tracked expenses and revenues for buying and selling horses.

She buys horses and resells them after riding them and taking them to horse shows. She buys horses when they are “green” with not much training.

Levandowski was state vice president of FFA two years ago when she was a freshman at SUNY Morrisville. She was determined to complete the American Degree.

“It’s the highest ranking for a member,” she said. “It’s really good closure for my FFA career.”

The Albion chapter also was recognized at the National Convention with a silver award. It won a bronze award the previous year.

The chapter has 80 members. It was recognized for its community outreach efforts, including a holiday food drive that nets about 20,000 pounds of produce for Community Action. The FFA chapter also puts on a fall festival for the elementary school, welcoming students to paint pumpkins and do other crafts.

“The kids do a great job reaching out to the community,” said Adam Krenning, FFA advisor and ag teacher.