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FFA reognizes students at annual awards banquet

By: Lacy Hilliard
Tomahawk Writer/Photographer

The Future Farmers of America (FFA) organization at Johnson County High School (JCHS) is perhaps one of the most time-honored and active groups in the county. Each year, agriculturally inclined students are offered various opportunities to exercise knowledge gained through the program at various competitions throughout the region. The annual FFA banquet both honors student achievement and acts as a venue to educators and parents to come together and promote the future success of the program.
This year’s FFA banquet was held on Friday, May 2 in the JCHS Commons Area. It was well attended by students, parents, educators and even State Representative Timothy Hill and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey. The Lt. Governor even remarked “Johnson County has one of the best FFA programs in the state.” Judging by the number of honors garnered by the students throughout the year, Lt. Governor Ramsey hit the nail on the head.
The banquet opened with the recitation of the FFA Creed, which perhaps best summarizes the mission of the organization and begins with, “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds – achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.” The FFA members are no strangers to hard work and their willingness to do so for the betterment of the organization is inspiring to say the least.
The Johnson County FFA took various educational trips this year including a livestock judging event in Gray, Tennessee as well as one at the University of Tennessee– Knoxville (UTK), the FFA State Convention in Gatlinburg, FFA Leadership Camp, the National Convention in Louisville, KY, a thoroughbred retirement horse farm in Lexington, KY, UT Agriculture Day in Greenville, as well as a horse judging competition at Middle Tennessee State University just to name a few. Putting their FFA education to the test at competition this year in the forestry division were Miranda Forrester, Kevin Stevenson, Blake Robinson, Will Hicks and Callie Howell. Competing in the Envirothon was Miranda Forrester, Kevin Stevenson, Blake Robinson, Callie Howell, Will Hicks and Sawyer Main. In the Livestock Judging division Rebekah Dugger, Mary Taylor, Dillon McQueen and Caitlin Rich competed for top honors. In Parliamentary Procedure, Rodger Potter, Kevin Stevenson, Shane Slobecheski, Amber Rogers, Callie Howell and Stephen Meredith put their knowledge to the test. Participating in the Horse Judging division were Catlin Rich, Jenna McNeill, Miranda Forrester, Alec Tester, Sawyer Main and Ayla Dunn. Soil Judging participants included Taylor Long, Logan Church, Rodger Potter, Dillon McQueen, Brandon Cox, Will McCloud, Martin Potter, Miranda Forrester, Will Hicks and Stephen Meredith. Competing in the Opening and Closing Ceremony division were Taylor Long, Hunter Greene, Caitlin Leonard, Dillon McQueen, Rebekah Dugger, Faith Poteet, Cody Neely and Zach Bauer. Rebekah Dugger was also the sole participant in the Creed category. Johnson County FFA President Will Hicks was the sole participant in the Extemporaneous Speaking category, which according to his teacher Kenneth McQueen, is one of the most difficult categories. Blake Robinson competed in the Prepared Speaking category and finally Stephen Meredith represented the Johnson County FFA in the Job Interview category.
Perhaps the most anticipated part of the FFA Banquet is the announcement of special award recipients chosen by the JCHS agriculture and vocational teachers. Honored with a scholarship award based on academic merit were the following; freshmen Rebekah Dugger and Lacy Greenwell who both hold a 4.0 GPA, sophmores Sawyer Main and Alec Tester who also hold the coveted 4.0, junior Layken Ward who holds a 3.85 GPA and senior Logan Church who can boast a 3.963. Following the scholarship awards, JCHS senior Katie Sexton was honored for perfect attendance throughout all four years of high school, amazingly all while maintaining a 3.5 GPA. Next came the announcement of the Star Awards. It is said that the recipients of Star Awards represent the best of the best in the FFA. Recipients of Star Awards were as follows; Star Greenhand Degree Winners: Taylor Long and Rebekah Dugger, Star Chapter Degree Winner: Callie Howell, Most Outstanding Junior: Catlin Rich, Howard Smith Award: Miranda Forrester and finally the Dekalb Award: Will Hicks.
Though the students were the main focus of the festivities, it’s clear that each member recognizes that none of this would be possible without the dedication of JCHS staff members. Thomas Boyd, Tracy Dugger, Jerry Eagan, Sirrena Wiggins Aldridge and Kenneth McQueen were all called forth to be honored by their grateful students. With the upcoming retirement of FFA icon Kenneth McQueen, a special thank you was concocted by students and staff.
Thomas Boyd began his speech in honor of Kenneth McQueen by saying, “Kenneth McQueen began the shop program, which is second to none and he was also essential in the creation of the aquaculture program.” Tracy Dugger followed Boyd saying “He’s been my mentor.” “Of all the good that that you hear about the Johnson County FFA, what you don’t always see behind it is Kevin McQueen. His presence is vital to the success of the program.” Mr. McQueen, also known as the “Carhart King” was presented with none other than a customized Carhart jacket. Though McQueen may be closing his chapter at JCHS, he assured students that in terms of agricultural pursuits, he still plans to be very much active, “I’ll still be around. I’ll still be farming,” said McQueen.
The Johnson County FFA will continue on its agricultural journey and will work to maintain their status as one of the best organizations offered at Johnson County High School.