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Three members of the Hayes Center FFA chapter traveled to Indianapolis October 26-28th to attend the National FFA Convention and receive their American FFA Degree. Earning the degree from Hayes Center this year were Kasey Clifford, Alex Lawson and Allyson Lawson. The American Degree is the highest degree and FFA member an earn and typically less than 1% of the membership receives this degree each year.
To receive the American Degree, students must first earn a set of preliminary degrees. Those degrees are the Greenhand Degree, usually received their freshman or sophomore year, Chapter Degree received during their second year of membership and then the State Degree, earned their senior year or first year in college. These degrees are based on a students Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) program and their FFA participation. The SAE is an outside of class, work experience program related to agriculture where students learn various skill and in most cases, earn money.
The specific requirements for the American Degree, are follows:
Have received the State FFA Degree, have been an active member for the past three years (36 months) and have a record of satisfactory participation in the activities on the chapter and state level.
Have completed at least 360 hours of Agricultural Education
Have graduated from high school at least 12 months prior to the national convention at which the degree is to be granted. (Note, students can be FFA members till they are 21).
Have in operation and have maintained records to substantiate an outstanding supervised agricultural experience program.
A student after entering agricultural education must have: Earn at least $10,000 and productively invested $7,500
Have a record of outstanding leadership abilities and community involvement and have achieved a high school scholastic record of “C” or better as certified by the principal or superintendent.
Have participated in at least 50 hours of community service within at least three different community service activities.
“I was really pleased that Kasey, Alex and Allyson committed to completing the American Degree. They are great examples for our younger members. To maintain an SAE and the records that go with them takes a lot of individual responsibility, especially as busy college students. It was especially nice that some of our younger members in attendance at convention were able to share this experience with the American Degree recipients,” stated Randy Vlasin, FFA Advisor.
Also attending the American Degree Ceremony were Mark and Deb Clifford parents of Kasey and Tim and Lisa Lawson, parents of Allyson and Alex.
They Hayes Center FFA Agricultural Sales team of Sage Sherman, Abigail Soncksen, Kelli Spike and Chad Barent earned Silver at the national competition held in conjunction with the National FFA Convention that took place October 25th-28th in Indianapolis. Individually Sherman and Soncksen received gold medals, Spike a silver medal and Barent a bronze medal.
The Ag Sales competition consists of three parts: Team practicum, individual sales presentation and written test. In the team practicum, the four team members are presented a customer scenario. They have 15 minutes to come up with a sales plan for that customer. During this time, they are judged on their cooperation as a team and adequately addressing the required sales steps. In the individual presentation, the student is presented a sales scenario and judges pose as a customer. The student must attempt to close the sale with the judges. Each member then takes a written test related to the sales process.
“I was very pleased with the student’s performance,” stated Randy Vlasin, FFA Advisor and coach of the team. “Competing at nationals is a whole new experience for our kids. When you compete at nationals, you are already among the top 5% of teams in the nation, and so is everyone else who is there. Every team is a state champion, so the competition is tough. Of course everyone is there to win the national championship, and we were no different. At this level, just a few small things can make the difference. To receive a silver at this level is an accomplishment,” said Vlasin.
He went on to say, “Probably what I am most proud of with this team is they are the pioneers, the trail blazers you might say. What this team did was to show the rest of our students in Hayes Center that it is possible to compete on this level if you are willing to work at it. For a school the size of Hayes Center to even get a shot at competing at nationals is an honor. We have to compete against everyone regardless of the size of the school. When you look at the schools competing in the National Ag Sales, other than Hayes Center, the range in school size was from 145 to over 1600 students per school. Needless to say we were the smallest school competing.”
The road to the national competition started with districts in February of 2017. The HC team won the district competition and advanced to the state level in April. At state, the Hayes Center team beat out 42 other teams to capture the state title. At the national competition, they ended up 22nd out of 39 teams.
“At first, the kids were disappointed we didn’t make the gold level, and certainly we wanted to achieve that. However, you have to keep a perspective about this. I told the students to realize when they started this journey, there were hundreds of teams across the nation competing for a spot at nationals and you were one of the few that made it. At nationals, they beat 17 other state champion teams to end up 22nd in the nation. The school and community can be proud of what this team accomplished,” stated Vlasin.
Also attending the convention as chapter delegates were FFA members Jaycee Lapp and Ashton Erickson. Lynn Soncksen also served as one of the adult chaperones.
The Hayes Center FFA hits the ground running with its next set of district competitions on November 8.