August 2018
Youth Matters

FFA Sentinel: Ready to Lead and Inspire

New state officers are elected at the Alabama FFA State Convention.


The 2018-19 Alabama FFA State Officers are, from left, Summer Parker, president; Maggie Edwards, vice president; Matthew Wilson, secretary; Ethan Phillips, treasurer; Preston Hughes, reporter; and Kalyn Rouse, sentinel.

The 90th Annual Alabama FFA State Convention was a thrilling and exuberant time for the officers, members and guests present! We honored our members who received awards in proficiency areas and scholarships, and we installed a new slate of state officers.

During the convention, we also recognized our honorable guests and our partners who were present. We are most thankful and truly honored to have the continual support of Alabama Farmers Cooperative and all other partners who make this event and FFA a success.

Twenty-two state level contests, ranging from Livestock Evaluation to Prepared and Extemporaneous Public Speaking, were held the day before the convention kickoff Wednesday. FFA teams from across the state descended upon Auburn University and Opelika High School to compete in their respective events.

The convention’s attendance was estimated at 1,800 members, guests, partners and friends of FFA. Without the help of Auburn University, Opelika High School and an army of volunteers, the contest day would not have been a success.

During one of five sessions, chapters or individuals who placed in the contests and awards programs were honored.

Ashlyn Ruf, Ardmore Chapter, was selected as the 2017-2018 State Star Farmer, while Kaleb Wright was awarded the Mindy Stringer Memorial Scholarship.

State FFA Degrees were awarded to 269 outstanding FFA members. The State FFA Degree is the highest award a state association can award to an individual member. Students earn this award though Ag Education coursework, their supervised agricultural experience project, and their FFA and community service participation.

Our convention consisted of many happy and emotional moments – especially during the keynote speeches and retiring addresses.

The State Star Farmer Award was presented to Ashlyn Ruf, Ardmore Chapter. The award is sponsored by Cargill and the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity of Auburn University.


DeShawn Blanding, the 2016-2017 Southern Region National FFA Organization Vice President, provided one of the most remarkable speeches at the convention when he delivered his keynote address. His theme was "Your Destiny, Your Decision."

Blanding’s three big points were: "Be you, be about it and believe." He stated that you must know yourself to be able to grow yourself. Next, he mentioned that "being about it" is not just saying you are going to do something but also sticking to and doing it!

When I heard him say that, I thought about the popular phrase: "If you are going to talk the talk then you better walk the walk!"

His final point was to "Believe."

Blanding closed his speech and left us with, "Commit yourself to it, be you and simply believe."

With hearing these inspirational words, those present could take home a very important outlook about not only their lives but also the lives of others.

We were also fortunate to have had Mr. Matt Lohr, a farmer, husband, father, former National FFA Officer and the Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture, deliver the opening session keynote. His humor and storytelling guided members to continue to strive for success during and beyond their FFA journey.


The Hale County FFA Chapter places second in the Crime Prevention award category. Pictured from left are Jamichael Edward, David Robinson and advisor Ronald Reaves.

The 2017-2018 State Officer Team delivered their retiring addresses. Each officer had their own theme for their retiring address, ranging from State President Cameron Catrett’s "Put on your Perspectacles" to an emotional-and-inspirational speech delivered by our State Reporter, Will Jordan, with his theme of "Your Life Matters." Each and every state officer gave a heartfelt and genuine retiring address.

We witnessed a roller coaster of emotions from each state officer. Many times, we felt as if we were right there with them living through their speeches.

As a newly elected state officer and on behalf of all Alabama FFA members, we congratulate them on their year of service. We now look forward to our year of service as the 2018-2019 State Officer Team!


The New Slate of Officers

During the week of the state convention, state officer interviews were held. Officer candidates went through a very tedious interviewing process. There was a test to be taken, a letter to be written and five interviews to evaluate the 12 candidates representing the three FFA districts in Alabama.

Once selected, our services had only just begun. We truly had an experience of a lifetime that most of us would never have gotten if not for FFA and the opportunity to become a state officer.

Each officer had a unique experience during the short election time.

After the convention, the newly installed state officers begin their leadership training with Alabama CTSO Leadership Summit and Base Camp Training, provided by the National FFA, and Checkpoint Conference in Raymond, Mississippi.

Here are just a few statements from the new slate of officers:

Our State President, Summer Parker, and State Vice President, Maggie Edwards, mentioned, "I love meeting and spending the week with the state officers from Mississippi and Louisiana at the Checkpoint Conference."

Our State Secretary, Matthew Wilson, and State Treasurer, Ethan Phillips, mentioned, "We met and learned that all of us share a great passion for this organization. It is very interesting to see how the other states run their associations."

I, as our State Reporter, and State Sentinel, Kalyn Rouse, mentioned our most memorable moments so far as state officers, " I truly cherish being able to connect with not only the other five new officers but also having the opportunity to reach out to the other officers and members in our great state. I really love the feeling of them (district officers) looking up to me, and me being able to help them!"

As the newly-elected state officers continue their summer training and leadership development, we hope to inspire members and continue to build leaders, grow communities and strengthen agriculture through agriculture education and FFA. Our year of service is member-focused, and we look forward to reaching out to FFA advisors and members in our state during 2018-2019.

You can find our contact information on the state officer page,, as well as information on how you can support the future of agriculture and FFA.

I am also pleased to take this opportunity to invite you to next year’s convention to be held in Montgomery the first full week of June.


Preston Hughes is the 2018-2019 Alabama FFA State Reporter.