The Shelby High School FFA Chapter held their awards ceremony last Thursday evening, May 2, recognizing not only the achievements of its members, but also awarding members of the community who have supported the program.
The evening got underway with a welcome and opening ceremony by the officer team consisting of Dillon Luly, Justin Nieman, Ben Aklestad, Jackie Stratton, Alex Stratton, Briton Bunnell and Ryan VanTine. Following the ceremony a delicious potluck dinner was served, buffet style, offering those in attendance a wide variety of great salads provided by FFA members and pulled pork as the main entrée.
It was then time to hear from guest speaker, Pastor Chad Scarborough, of the First Baptist Church. Pastor Chad grew up in Texas, where the tradition of FFA was not only strong in his school, but at home as well.
“In the town I grew up in, the FFA chapter was bigger than the football team,” said Pastor Chad with a chuckle. “And that’s saying a lot in Texas. I remember as a kid my dad’s FFA jacket hanging in his closet. When he was in FFA the jackets were a baby blue, they were ugly.”
Pastor Chad shared his FFA experiences and what life lessons it taught him. He explained that through FFA he was able to travel all over the state of Texas, showing animals and learning more about life, and himself, along the way. One of the biggest things Pastor Chad took with him from FFA was his public speaking experience.
“I learned how to speak in public. I was shy as a child and FFA gave me public speaking skills and abilities,” said Pastor Chad. “If you know what I do now, you know that skill is one I could not do without.”
He also credits FFA with teaching him how to lead. As a child he was not outspoken and didn’t want to be recognized or known. FFA gave him opportunities and training. It also taught him teamwork. In FFA, each person has a role and if one person drops the ball, it affects everyone else.
“FFA taught me how to have accountability and to encourage others,” said Pastor Chad. “I learned community. I also learned you don’t always win. As a freshman I ran for FFA president, and lost terribly. Even with good animals in the show arena, sometimes I still lost. FFA taught me how to lose gracefully.”
FFA also taught Pastor Chad the value of hard work and perseverance, both traits that have greatly paid off in his life.
“I learned lessons I’ve used throughout my life, character, work, integrity,” said Pastor Chad. “I was given opportunities that wouldn’t have happened otherwise through FFA. FFA is part of what shapes what I do every day. I wondered as a kid why my dad kept his jacket, he still has it to this day. And that’s why, it shaped who he was and is. And I kept mine. This place, Shelby, is a better place from the FFA influence in our lives.”
Pastor Chad praised FFA advisor, Thad White, for how far he has brought the program in the past six years that he has been in charge. Pastor Chad recalled that prior to White joining the staff at SHS, FFA was pretty non-existent.
“Six years ago FFA was non-existent in Shelby,” he recalled. “Thad has done a lot to get this program going. As a kid, you don’t really realize how much time teachers like Thad put in.”
Then it was awards time, and there were many to be given. Community Appreciation Awards were given by FFA Vice President Justin Nieman to the following: CHS, Torgerson’s, Jerry Larson-Shelby Airport, Jennifer Van Heel-Shelby Promoter, Hardware Hank’s, Shelby School Board, all parents, Jeff Flesch, Jim Ghekiere of the Toole County Weed Dept., Elliott Crump, Mr. Heaton, the teachers at Shelby Schools, the Puffman and KSEN, the CJI FFA chapter, other local FFA chapters, Robert DeLacey, Marsha McCubbins, Bob Aklestad and family, the Fretheim family, Kyle Fisher and the Elks.
Those becoming honorary Shelby FFA members included Jerry Larson, Jim Ghekiere, Jennifer Van Heel, The Puffman-Jerry Puffer and Lori Stratton.
The final award and greatest honor to be given any FFA member was the “Soar Above” Award.
“The Soar Above award is for the FFA member who has taken the initiative to balance an involvement in FFA, academically stable, and being involved in family life and community life,” said FFA advisor, Thad White. “This member can be represented as the eagle on top of the FFA symbol. They are holding our chapter above all the rest and are representing the Shelby FFS chapter to the utmost respect. This year’s Soar Above award goes to Alex Stratton, Jackie Stratton and Justin Nieman.”
It was a great evening of recognizing achievements and being grateful for the support and opportunities given through FFA. The evening offered Shelby’s FFA chapter the chance to thank those who have helped in their success while also showing what has been achieved. Throughout it all one thing remained clear, those in the organization, past and present, live by the FFA motto: “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.”