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Back row left to right: Dr. Andrew Baker, Jenny Jackson, Mallory Munster, Christian Thurwanger, Kole Stadt, Molly Woods, Brett Gerace Front row left to right: Leslie Borries, Tori Waller, Samantha Martin, Kristin Schmidt (National FFA Officer), Maggie Prather, Mackenzie Buyck, EB Miller
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WIU Welcomes National FFA Officer

March 6, 2015

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MACOMB, IL - - The Western Illinois University collegiate chapter of Future Farmers of America (FFA) welcomed a national representative of the organization Tuesday, Feb. 24 in Knoblauch Hall. Kristen Schmidt, the national region vice president, along with staff members from the National FFA Organization, enjoyed a game night social hosted by WIU's CFFA chapter.

"You don't get the chance to meet with national officers at a university or at your high school very often, so when we got the word that they were coming through town, we decided to plan the event," said Brett Gerace, president of the WIU Agriculture Education Club.

The National FFA has approximately 600,000 members and is the largest youth organization in the country. At WIU, CFFA consists of nearly 30 members.

"There are no restrictions to being in the organization," said Gerace. "You don't have to be an agriculture student to join the club, and you don't even have to have participated in FFA at the high school level. It's very open, and it really benefits any career if you really think about it."

The collegiate chapter of FFA hosts competitions for high school students to compete in.

"They competed in the contest [in high school], and now they're on the backside; they're judging, throwing these contests on, and it's all at the state level," Gerace said.

The event was designed to also be a networking opportunity for the ag students.
"If they do end up in agriculture, these people [who work at the national, state-staff levels], these are people that we will work with in our careers," said Gerace.

Being a part of the National FFA at the collegiate level can benefit any future agriculture educator. In the organization, students have the chance to do event planning, career development, social networking and meet professionals in the field.

Don Norton, president of the Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation, said the opportunities the National FFA offers to students have made a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success.

"It was so great to have a National FFA officer in Macomb. FFA officers are terrific examples for all high school and college students to show the potential that there is in agriculture for careers and life-styles," said Norton.

For more information about the collegiate chapter of FFA, visit

Posted By: Mary Friday (
Office of University Communications & Marketing