FFA meets for state conference

By Bryan Richardson

Kansas youth are celebrating another year of FFA during the 84th state convention at K-State. It began Wednesday and continues through Friday.

The convention theme, “I Believe,” is meant to inspire members’ growth as future leaders in agriculture, their communities and the world. The convention, run by volunteer staff, includes awards for members and motivation speeches.

Kylee Wollard and Natacha Namphengsone, both from Winfield High School, represented the younger side of the scale as incoming sophomores who began FFA in the eighth grade. They waited in the lobby of McCain Auditorium on Thursday for the group presentation of their AgriScience project, which examined the effects of nicotine on tomato plants.

Namphengsone said she found FFA interesting.

“I like how everybody is like a big team,” Wollard said.

“Everybody really supports each other,” Namphengsone added.

Just like a sports team, there’s the official uniform all members must maintain: black bottoms, shoes and socks, white top, and official FFA jacket with a tie for males and scarf for females.

Wollard helped fix Namphengsone’s jacket, which must be worn with the zipper fastened to the top, collar turned down and cuffs in place and buttoned. Scarves and ties must be tied at all times.

Wollard and Namphengsone met in the seventh grade. Besides FFA, they also are a part of the school’s music scene in the orchestra and choir.

“We like doing activities together, and FFA was a good one,” Wollard said, “because you spend a lot of time with those people,” Namphengsone finished, completing Wollard’s sentence.

Namphengsone said she was looking forward to seeing if her group members would win an award for their project.

Wyatt Pracht, who will be a senior next year at Anderson County High School, was an early award winner, receiving first place in Leadership Information.

It involved a 100-question test about state agriculture facts.

Pracht said FFA provides a lot for him. “I like being able to meet new people, have opportunities and learn life skills,” he said. Among the life skills he said he’s developed is public speaking, which will help him get his point across in job interviews.

Pracht said he wants to become a state officer once he finishes high school and enters college. He hopes to experience what outgoing state secretary Kurt Lockwood has during the past year.

“It’s definitely without a doubt been the best year of my life,” Lockwood said. He said it was good to be back in Manhattan; the agricultural education major recently completed his freshman year at K-State.

Lockwood said he has had a blast as a FFA member. “It’s been absolutely amazing,” he said. “It’s done so much for me. I know it’s going to help me throughout my life.”

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