Goodhue FFA has two members elected to state officeFor FFA, Minnesota is divided into eight regions. Each region represents anywhere from 20 to 35 different FFA chapters. Do the math, and it’s not hard to tell that there are dozens of chapters throughout the state.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
For FFA, Minnesota is divided into eight regions. Each region represents anywhere from 20 to 35 different FFA chapters. Do the math, and it’s not hard to tell that there are dozens of chapters throughout the state.
Couple that with the fact that there are only six state FFA offices that need to be filled each year and it’s easy to see that the chances of having a state officer from your local chapter would be pretty slim. So, it’s even rarer that two students from the same chapter would both be elected to FFA state office positions in the same year.
But, for the Goodhue High School chapter, that’s exactly what happened.
Shawna Conrad was elected to the state president position. Jared Luhman will be state reporter. Both are seniors at Goodhue High School.
“To me, just to have one on the team would have been an incredible opportunity,” Goodhue FFA advisor Lee Thompson said.
To have two, though, “is quite an accomplishment,” he said, adding that it’s a first for Goodhue.
Conrad joined FFA when she was in seventh grade; Luhman joined as a freshman. Both say they knew early on that serving in state office was a goal for them.
“Back in sophomore year, I saw a national (FFA) convention on TV,” Luhman said, adding that then-national president Paul Moya spoke.
“He said, ‘We can change the world.’ With that speech, my life just changed,” Luhman said. “I knew at that time that I wanted to go as far as I (could).”
For Conrad, it started in seventh grade when she met a state officer for the first time.
“I thought she was superwoman,” Conrad said.
The road to state office begins with a paper application. But Conrad admitted she was hesitant to start that process.
“I had lots of doubts,” she said. “I wasn’t sure I was ready to feel the fear of failure.”
But both students submitted their applications by the March 1 deadline. Then the 21 candidates went through a five-step interview process during the state FFA convention on the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus in late April.
“It’s quite a process,” Conrad said. “It’s pretty grueling. … You never know what they’re going to hand you.”
The candidates are judged by a 12-person panel that includes current state officers and FFA advisors. Rounds include one-on-one interviews, group presentations and writing exercises. The interviews test the candidates on their knowledge of the agriculture industry and FFA. They also allow judges to get to know the candidates on a personal level.
The six newly-elected state officers were announced in front of all the convention attendees Tuesday April 24. Luhman said he was so surprised that he was elected, he remembers little of the ceremony.
“I was in shock that I was up there,” he said. “There were 21 amazing candidates. That’s why it’s such an honor.”
Conrad, who was announced last, said she had given up hope of being elected once the first five officers were named.
“I thought there was no way that I was going to be president,” she said.
Now both FFA members are looking forward to the year ahead and their upcoming terms.
“(My goal is) just to reach as many members as possible,” Luhman said. “As a state officer, it’s exciting to meet people across the state. I’m so excited for that. This is going to be awesome.”
Conrad said she wants to make sure the organization continues to inspire future members.
“(I want to) take what FFA members did before me and pass it on to the next generation,” she said. “I feel blessed. It’s cool to know you have the opportunity to serve 9,000 members.”
After graduating high school this spring, Conrad will attend South Dakota State University to study agriculture education, leadership and communication. Luhman will attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities to study agriculture education.