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The Tennessee FFA Association makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The Association is led by a Board of Directors and the State Officer Team. We were lucky enough to have five of the eight 2014-2015 teammates enrolled in CASNR and will have three officers from the 2015-2015 team joining us in the fall.​ ​Tennessee FFA state officers and Univesity of Tennessee students retire from State FFA Officer Team. Pictured from left to right are Amy Morgan, State Treasurer; Shelby Day, State Sentinel; Susan Cowley, Middle Tennessee State Vice-President; Elena Smith, West Tennessee State Vice-President; Victoria Utsman, State Reporter; Kevin Robertson, State President; Coty Vannoy, East Tennessee State Vice-President, Nick Baker, State Secretary. 

From Big Orange Country to Rainbow Nation

 During the month of January, exactly one half of the Tennessee State FFA officer team traveled across the Atlantic Ocean for two weeks while the other half was starting school after a refreshing Christmas break. Nick Baker, Elena Smith, Susan Cowley, and Amy Morgan began their journey to South Africa with seventy-four state officers from around the nation on the International Leadership Seminar for State Officers. 

While there, the students experienced once in a lifetime opportunities that shifted their entire perspective of the world, but more than anything else, they were challenged. They were challenged to step out of their comfort zones and seek experiences they might never have the chance to do again. They toured several farms and major agricultural companies where they learned about South African agriculture and the differences and similarities with American agriculture. 

The teammates also had the privilege of visiting the township of Kliptown. This community lacks even the most basic needs: sanitation, education, and food and water. There are over 45,000 individuals living in these awful conditions,10,000 of those being children. However, there is so much potential. The Kliptown Youth Program is a project to support the children by providing meals, educational support, and after-school activities. In a community with rampant poverty, the students share that they have never seen so much pure joy and hope. 

The adversity in South Africa is evident but “the rainbow nation,” as christened by Desmond Tutu, still excels. Overall, the students’ time out of the country was spent by learning to value the land, accepting differences, seeking diversity, and looking for adventure. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that has changed their lives forever.


UT Students Go All Out at FFA Convention

March for FFA state officers does not mean the beginning of spring and the budding of flowers; March does not mean spring break or sand. March means one thing and one thing only, STATE FFA CONVENTION! A month filled with planning, memorizing, rehearsing, and sometimes tears (well maybe lots and lots of tears) boils down to celebrating a tradition 87 years strong for three days in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This year 3,500 members, advisors, and guests packed into the Gatlinburg Convention Center making it an all-time high record for attendance. The state officers arrived on Friday night to prepare for the candidate process beginning the next afternoon. After all, the state officers were not the only ones who had a busy week; Tennessee was proud to have twenty-three State Officer candidates running for the 2015-2016 State Officer team, hundreds of members competing on the state level, and dozens of greenhands experiencing convention for the very first time.

Our goal as a State Officer team was to make convention about the members; we wanted them to enjoy every moment that they were at convention. So what better way than to GO ALL OUT? We had everything ranging from Jimmy Fallon lip sync battles to a choreographed Frozen sing along and puns that ranged from Disney princesses all the way to good ole Dukes of Hazard. On top of seven hilarious and energetic sessions, all eight state officers gave impactful retiring addresses on subjects such as redefining success, loving yourself and others, choosing joy in life, not allowing yourself to be invisible, and even on subjects such as selflessness and bullying. But let us not forget about all of the members that we recognized! We awarded FFA chapters, teams, and individuals in career development events, proficiencies, agriscience fair projects, STARS, and witnessed firsthand some of our amazing FFA talent, proving that the 13,000 members in Tennessee know how to GO ALL OUT.

​This year, eight individuals had the honor to represent our great state from corner to corner and from top to bottom. As our year of service came to a close, we were reminded of the love and passion and commitment that so many FFA members instilled in each us this year.

Although we may have hung up our blue jackets, another eight talented and selfless Tennessee FFA members received the opportunity to zip up a new FFA jacket one more time. Installed on Wednesday afternoon, Chelsea Sanders, Derek Anderson, Madison Benson, Emily White, Dalton Teel, Chelsea Wattenbarger, Chad Lewis, and Stephen McNeal were elected to serve as the 2015-2016 State Officer team and we could not be more proud of each and every one of them. This year, they will travel across our great state and maybe even internationally as they advocate for Tennessee agriculture, agriculture education, and our Tennessee FFA members.

Although March and our time as a team has drawn to a close, our time of growth is far from over. We spent one year as a team, but we will spend a lifetime as a family. I cannot wait to see what the future holds as we continue to GO ALL OUT!

Together we lead, laugh, and love all out,

(ALEC Students) Elena Smith, Nick Baker, Amy Morgan, Susan Cowley, and Victoria Utsman


Retiring the Blue to done the Orange

For the past year, 370 days to be exact, eight individuals had the honor to represent our great state as the 2014-2015 Tennessee State FFA officer team. We have traveled high and low, far and wide, through rain and snow! We have literally worked through blood, sweat, and tears for this organization. But I would not change one second of my experience, one aspect of our time together, or one characteristic about any of my teammates. We started out our journey as eight talented individuals but we ended this year as a family. I learned more about the world around me, the importance of having a faith-based relationship, and more about myself from my seven teammates in one year than I have learned in twenty years of doing life alone.

As our year of service was coming to a close, we woke up that Wednesday morning full of dread and sadness, we huddled together crying and praying for it to be an April Fool’s joke. However, if there is one thing that I can stand solid on, it is that we, as a team, are selfless servants and while standing in front of the stage staring back at the twenty-three individuals running for office, we were no longer disappointed that our year was ending. We were only reminded of the excitement and willingness to learn that each of us had. As the names of the new offices were announced we were filled with love and excitement for the new officers because we know and have felt the love, passion, and commitment that only a state officer can feel for the Association and their team.  

On Wednesday, April 1, after five years filled with personal growth, countless memories, and the creation of lifelong friendships, I hung up my blue jacket for the final time. Yet, my only thought was, “This cannot be it for me” and I was right. The question of the next day, week, and even month has been, “So what’s next?” and I’m thrilled to answer that question. I’m going to be a student at the University of Tennessee. I’m going to go to all my classes, every football game, I’m going to get involved with my sorority, and different clubs on campus. I’m going to get internships and travel and study abroad. I’m going to work hard for CASNR and help make a positive difference in the lives of college students over the next few years. I’m going to be the one thing that I haven’t had the opportunity to be yet, normal.

Although my time as an FFA member has drawn to a close, that is not the end of my book, that’s merely the end of a chapter. I will take everything that I have learned, and I will continue to grow as a leader. My time of growth is far from over; on the contrary, it has just begun.

Forever Blue. Always Orange,

Elena Smith