Five current and former Tallapoosa County Schools students have served as Alabama Future Farmers of America student officers in the last six years.
Reeltown High School student Ka’Shiya McKinney is currently the state FFA’s reporter for the 2019-20 year. Former students Lacey Newman, Torran Smith, Matthew Wilson and Ethan Phillips served starting in 2015.
Student officers travel around the state and advocate for agriculture in high schools. To become an officer, candidates interview once in March and five times in May.
“It was pretty awesome to know we’ve had five state officers in six years,” Smith said. “Not many counties have one state officer in this state but we’ve had five in that short amount of time.”
The last state officer from Tallapoosa County was Mickey Humphries, who served as a vice president in 1963, according to Smith.
“This decade right here shows Tallapoosa County FFA is on the rise,” Smith said.
FFA officers serve as delegates at the national competition in Indianapolis in November. Officers also participate in an annual service project, meet regularly and meet with state leaders such as Gov. Kay Ivey.
“That’s the impressive part is that they’re doing it as students in high school or college freshmen,” Smith said. “Being a college freshman has to be pretty grueling when being a state FFA officer. They have to meet certain deadlines.”
The officers also help put on the state convention in June and give speeches there. Officers are trained during the summer before the year they start, according to Smith.
“They have to understand how to run a convention, how to communicate with sponsors and adults and stuff like that,” Smith said. “It teaches them how to be organized.”
Smith said having five Tallapoosa County officers in six years shows the program is on the rise and he thinks Benjamin Russell could have a state officer in the next few years.
“It speaks to how far Tallapoosa County FFA has come,” Smith said. “I’m glad to be a part of the area… We are truly, truly in a state where agriculture is being tested every day and I think these kids do a fantastic job of providing a positive and bright spot for agriculture education. I think they are the reason agriculture education is still thriving today in schools and in this county I think it’s a key component of our education.”
Smith’s advice for any student interested in interviewing for an officer position is to be his or herself.
“Show everybody who you are, what you can do and what you’re capable of, and it’s simple if you are yourself; you don’t have to fake it,” Smith said. “It’s not a struggle.”