BUCKHANNON — A stellar group of 10 Upshur and Lewis County Future Farmers of America (FFA) received their State Degrees Tuesday morning on the lawn outside the West Virginia Farm Bureau office. Because the State FFA Convention was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Upshur County FFA Alumni and Supporters hosted the ceremony locally.
West Virginia Farm Bureau Administrator Steve Butler welcomed the crowd. In his speech, Butler also shared that the Farm Bureau invited the acclaimed students to join their youth membership, with the fees waived if they completed an application that day.
Former FFA member, State Officer, American Farmer Degree Recipient and Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw spoke to the Degree recipients about how FFA has impacted his life. Hanshaw shared that one of the most memorable moments in his life is the day he received his FFA State Degree at Cedar Lakes and praised the organization for getting him to where he is today. He stated that he still has, and proudly displays, a small golden plow in his office. Hanshaw congratulated, thanked and personally challenged the students to continue with FFA throughout their lives. “It’s a big deal to have accomplished what it takes to get the State FFA Degree; very few members get it,” Hanshaw expressed. “There’s lots of opportunities left as a member, and lots of opportunities left in life to leverage those skills and do a number of tremendous things that you’ll never forget.”
The students accepted their State Degrees while Buckhannon-Upshur High School Agriculture Teachers Joseph Hymes and Allyson Lewis, along with Diana Garrett from Lewis County High School, read the recipients bios, listing their other activities, accompaniments and future plans. Awardees included: Kennedy Samargo, Laikelyn Leggett, Jared Griffith, Caleb Liggett, Haylee Rice, Tanisha Vaughn, Trapper Samples, Cory Hamner, Maggie Queen and Kassidy Kimble. Tyler Sandreth was also conferred his Degree, but he was not able to make it to the ceremony.
“When I did some rough math, we have over $90,000 dollars that these high school kids have earned, invested and have given back to the community,” Lewis proudly stated. Lewis also reported that this year, Upshur County had the second highest number of degree recipients in the state, as well as the most awardees the county has ever had. There are currently 5,734 FFA members statewide and only 198 earned their State Degree this year, for a ratio of about 3 percent achieving this prestigious honor.
Retired State Officer Raven Friend, Central Region Vice President for 2019-2020, gave the closing remarks. She congratulated the recipients and recognized that earning a State Degree is “one of the highest honors you can receive through FFA.” Friend reflected on the time she received her Degree and how the organization has impacted her life. She asserted that the lessons she learned will carry on with her the rest of her life.
The West Virginia Farm Bureau, Inc. added, “The Degree is a prestigious honor given to students who have their Chapter FFA Degree, and complete various, extensive earning and investment ventures, state and national leadership activities, and scholastic requirements. Participation in the FFA program at their school also plays a major role in receiving the honor.”
To earn a State Degree, FFA members must earn/invest at least $1,000, participate in state and national leadership activities, and complete at least 25 hours of community service.
To watch the ceremony, visit the Upshur County FFA Alumni and Supporters Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=205428300798577&ref=watch_permalink.