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Breaking the mold; Students work to win prestigious FFA award

By Paris Walther | Published Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ONE OF THE BEST – The Decatur FFA chapter was named one of the top five chapters in the state at last month’s convention in Corpus Christi. Submitted photo

Walking down the ag barn hallway, FFA adviser Jim Allsup searches the banner-clad walls for a spot to hang an award he is particularly proud of.

The Decatur FFA traveled to Corpus Christi July 9-13 for their state convention. There, they proudly received an award in front of 10,000 fellow members stating they were ranked the fifth best chapter in the state of Texas.

“With over 100 chapters throughout the state applying for this award, it is considered to be the toughest award to be won by a chapter,” Allsup said. “Being fifth in the state is an awesome honor.”

In order to be considered a top chapter, an application is submitted to be judged at the district, area and state levels.

“Our chapter and member involvement really made us stand out from the other applications,” he said.

Members and advisers put in countless hours toward community service, career development teams, fundraising and school programs.

“We are focused on a well-rounded program,” Allsup said. “We participate in and sponsor events and programs that benefit all members as well as our school, students and community.”

Always working to become a better-involved organization, the officers decided this year to take on more activities and community-service projects.

“It is always our chapter’s goal to be competitive in the National Chapter Rating system,” he said. “This is the best we have ever done. We have been 12th before but never in the top ten. It is a huge accomplishment for the Decatur FFA chapter.”

Helping to lead the Decatur Chapter, FFA secretary Hannah Hubbard strives to participate and help with the different events and contests.

“This year we volunteered at the nursing home, dedicated the 9/11 memorial at our school and helped our member Brooke Millican build her park,” she said. “I’m dedicated and involved in the quiz team, poultry judging and our officer team.”

Working to help build up the chapter, senior member Aubrey Thompson enjoys the events that the Decatur FFA plays an active role in.

“I enjoy everything that we do, but my favorite is working the fireworks stand with the chapter and all my friends,” she said. “It’s a great way to get to know the members.”

Not surprised that Decatur ranked fifth in Texas, Thompson knows the members and advisors work hard every day to achieve their goals.

“All of us try to go above and beyond to get it done right the first time,” she said.

With plans to study animal science. Thompson believes that the FFA is a great tool she can utilize.

“I think FFA is helping me to achieve a more responsible future,” she said. “Since I want to be a vet, it’s going to help me decide if I want a future in agriculture.”

Hoping to make her last year at Decatur even better, Thompson has already listed her goals.

“I would love to go to state in horse judging,” she said. “And I have never done an LDE (Leadership Development Event) so that would be a good thing to start.”

Excited to learn that she contributed toward the win, Thompson feels that future members can only add to the success.

“With our new members we’ll be ranked first,” she said. “They are chomping at the bit to get started. I think first is closely in our grasp.”

The Decatur FFA also received the National Gold Emblem and the Gold Multiple Teacher Department award.

Graduate Taylor Kennedy earned the Diversified Horticulture Proficiency honor and graduate Brooke Millican received a $4,000 scholarship and the Rural Youth Award. Incoming seniors Shelbie Chandler, Brittney Hubbard, Hannah Hubbard, Baylee McMaster-Murphree, Summer Miller, Aubrey Thompson and Paris Walther were awarded their state degrees, and Walther also received the Washington Leadership Conference Award.

Chance and Paris Walther represented Decatur FFA in the Texas FFA State rodeo.

To read more from our Youth Spoken reporters, visit WCMessenger.com/youthspoken.

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