Year of firsts for FFA students

First words, first love, first kiss, first day at school and first steps are all milestones which are special to those who witness or are a part of these events. This year, the members of the Buckhannon-Upshur FFA experienced many of these firsts which will, hopefully, result in many more exciting moments for this outstanding group of young people. One of the first competitions the students were involved in, which was a catalyst for many other exciting firsts, was the West Virginia Creates competition.

The Corn Stars, as they had dubbed themselves, consisted of four young men – Levi Gay, Elijah Carpenter and twins Nicholas and Nathaniel Russell – who were very interested in expanding and exploring a new direction for their already established enterprises. The students entered in the contest were able to tell the story of their farming enterprises and their outstanding speaking and leadership skills honed through the FFA were the flawless combination that made them winners of a collective prize of $2,500.

The next events were conducted in the winter with several students who composed stories of their rural heritage for the competition sponsored by the W.Va. Farm to You Collaborative. There were 10 state awards. Five were earned by the members of the B-U FFA. These young people included three honorable mention awards. Winning $25 each included members Alex Alkire, Ben Walton and Chris Goldsmith. Second place and $50 went to Mikinna Poling and first-place honors went to Mikenze Poling.

Additionally, at the Small Farm Conference, where the writing awards were presented, five students were finalists of a business plan competition. These students included Levi Gay, Elijah Carpenter, Nicholas Russell, Nathaniel Russell and Mikenze Poling. Again, with this competition, it was a first for anyone in the state.

When spring rolled around, it was time again to determine if there would be more firsts, and the members of the Buckhannon-Upshur FFA did not disappoint. Proficiency awards applications were completed and many students were part of this activity. Two were first in the state. Bobby Heater and Elijah Carpenter earned $250 each for their awards in the areas of Small Animal Care and Wildlife Management respectively. They will compete at Nationals if chosen for recognition this coming week. Others were chosen as second place and include Mikenze Poling, Mikinna Poling and Brandy Bachman.

Students were also chosen for the State Degree which is the highest degree bestowed on members in the FFA. Legend Riffle, Nicholas Russell, Mikenze Poling, Bobby Heater, Elijah Carpenter and Patience Alderman all met the requirements and earned these honors at the State FFA Convention. Other students earning recognition at this event were Legend Riffle who was the first-place winner of Talent.

No student has ever had an agriscience project from the Buckhannon-Upshur chapter. This year, we had three. Mikenze Poling and Cole Payne placed second in the state. Mikinna Poling was a first-place winner in the event. Her experiment will be judged again at the national level and if chosen as a finalist, she will be entered into the National Agriscience Fair in October in Louisville, Ky.

Mikenze Poling was elected as the first vice president of the State FFA Association in at least the last 20 years from our chapter. The state elects one president and one secretary and then one vice president from each region. This year the ventral region will be represented by an FFA member from Buckhannon-Upshur High School.

Mikenze will be attending advanced training in leadership and personal growth which will help members ignite their own leadership potential. She will also represent the State at the National FFA Convention. Hopefully her experience as a state officer will assist others who are interested from the Buckhannon-Upshur chapter to realize their leadership goals in the future.

Here is the last of the firsts. After teaching in other schools across the state of West Virginia, I hope my last teaching job will be at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. While here, I have been given a chance to communicate by the Inter-Mountain newspaper to showcase these wonderful students and all of their brilliant accomplishments. It is very exciting to have been given such an opportunity. The first words of the FFA Creed are “I believe” and I believe the readers of this prestigious paper will be excited to read about these firsts. Hopefully there will be more firsts and repeat performances of these awards and competitions.

The students of Buckhannon-Upshur FFA chapter are certainly worthy of the challenge.