Ag News

Georgia FFA students claim 19 national awards

The Georgia FFA Association’s trip to the 91st National FFA Convention was highlighted by 19 national winners and the retirement of Ian Bennett from Valdosta as National FFA vice president. The convention was highlighted by a concert from Garth Brooks and keynote address from President Donald Trump.

Bennett, a member of the Lowndes County FFA chapter, served as the 2017-2018 National FFA Southern Region vice president. Bennett took a one-year leave of absence from the University of Georgia, where he is a junior studying Agriscience & Environmental Systems, to travel more than 100,000 miles across the United States and to Japan serving as an ambassador for agricultural education and the FFA. Bennett was the 17th Georgian to serve as a National FFA Officer.

Career Development Events (CDEs) are team and individual competitive events designed to test student’s technical knowledge and ability in a variety of agricultural and leadership areas. Georgia’s national CDE champions include the Bleckley County FFA (Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems). Seth DuBois (7th place individual), Tucker Felkins, Louie Lumley (3rd place individual) and Jacob Smith comprised the team from the Bleckley County chapter that bested 38 other teams to win the national Agricultural Technology & Mechanical Systems CDE. The team’s advisor and agricultural education teacher is Dr. Walt Parks.

The West Jackson Middle School FFA chapter was named the nation’s Outstanding Middle School chapter as part of the National Chapter Award program. West Jackson Middle was one of five national finalists for the award, including Bonaire Middle, Franklin County Middle, and Jefferson Middle, all from Georgia. The agricultural education teacher and FFA Advisor at West Jackson Middle is Kasey Moody. This marks the second consecutive year, and third overall, that the West Jackson Middle FFA chapter has earned this honor.

Rhine Brady of White County (Equine Science – Entrepreneurship), Chase Burdette of Madison County (Agricultural Mechanics Design & Fabrication); Garrett Griner of Colquitt County (Wildlife Production & Management); Curtis Jackson of Jones County (Forest Management); William Kellum of Jefferson (Landscape Management); Isaac Lanier of Berrien County (Vegetable Production); Grace McClain of Habersham County (Food Science & Technology), Brentley Odom of Thomas County Central (Environmental/Natural Resource Management), and Kirei Parks of Tift County (Nursery Operations) were each named national FFA proficiency award winners for the success they earned in their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs. Only four students from across the nation are named National Finalists in each of the 47 proficiency areas. Georgia led the nation with 25 national proficiency award finalists.

Georgia FFA’s six winners in the national Agriscience Fair were: Ella Barkdoll and Emma McElhannon of the Hilsman Middle FFA (Animal Systems – Division 2); Hogan Smith of the Sonaraville FFA (Environmental/Natural Resources – Division 3), Zachary Daw (Food Products & Processing – Division 3), Annalies & Brooklyn Carr of the Sonoraville FFA (Food Products & Processing – Division 6), Canyon Randall & Alexander Turner of the Franklin County Middle FFA (Power, Structure & Technology – Division 2), and James Jones & Madison Webb of the Lowndes County FFA (Power, Structure & Technology – Division 4).

The Paulding County FFA was named the national winner of the 2018 National FFA Convention Hall of States competition. The Paulding County chapter, whose advisors are Mrs. Maggie Richards and Mr. Tom Liles, built a display that featured agriculture in Georgia as the theme for their booth. Their display was featured in the convention Expo.

Emma Long of the Pickens County FFA chapter was named the winner of the National FFA Convention Talent contest. Emma sang songs during the convention while playing guitar and keyboard.

Georgia also earned eight additional top-5 finishes in national FFA Career Development Events,  Twenty-three Georgia FFA chapters received a national 3-Star ranking, the highest ranking offered in the National Chapter Award program.

Seven Georgians were recognized for their support of agricultural education and the FFA as part of the Convention. Josh Allen (Bishop), Chip Blalock (Moultrie), Mike Bushey (Ellijay), Lynne Cook (Tifton), Johnny Jones (Lyons), John Seginak (Comer) and Andy TenHuisen (Waynesboro) each received the Honorary American FFA Degree for the contributions they make to the agricultural education program and FFA.

The Georgia FFA Association was recognized as a membership growth state for the 20th straight year..

Highlights from the 90th National FFA Convention can be found at