Cloudland FFA members attend National Convention, earn honors

Published 4:20 pm Thursday, November 9, 2017

Members of Cloudland High School’s Future Farmers of America Chapter recently attended their National Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, where some of the members received honors.

Highlander alumni Carl Brad Markland and Clydie Teaira Black received their American FFA Degrees during this year’s National Convention.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“They are the second and third Carter County schools students to receive the highly coveted American FFA Degree,” said chapter advisor Lauren Turbyfill. “Less than 1 percent of all National FFA membership — 650,000 plus members — earn this honor.”

Markland and Black were both FFA members freshman through senior years, and each served as the Chapter President during their respective senior years. Markland graduated in 2015 while Black graduated in 2016.

Students can continue to be FFA members through the age of 21, and both Markland and Black continued their membership with the Cloudland Chapter beyond their graduation.

A student can only earn his or her American degree after graduating from high school and obtaining their State FFA Degree.

“The credentials necessary for the American Degree are grueling,” Turbyfill said.

Students must have earned the State FFA Degree their Junior or Senior year of high school. They must have earned at least $2,000 and worked 2,250 hours in excess of scheduled class time through the student’s SAE Project(s) or Supervised Agricultural Experience. Students must also complete at least 50 hours of community service or volunteerism.

Academically, the student must also maintain a C or higher average throughout their entire academic career.

To qualify, students must have been an active FFA member for at least the past three years consecutively and have completed at least 540 instructional hours of Agricultural Education in high school.

CHS student Hope Russell was selected as one of 50 acts nationwide to take part in the National FFA Talent Program. The program highlights FFA members from around the country with musical abilities.

Russell has previously sung at the State FFA Convention on two different occasions, as a Freshman and a Junior. She is a now a senior at Cloudland and currently serves as the CHS Chapter President.

“She was selected to sing at the Indianapolis Convention Center and several private events throughout the city,” Turbyfill said. “Hope is an excellent example of a student that sets a goal and doesn’t let anything get in her way of obtaining that goal.”

In addition to the National Talent Program, an individual activity, students can also participate in the National FFA Band or National FFA Chorus.

“It is my hope to see many other students participate in these excellent programs in the years to come,” Turbyfill said. “Ironically, Hope participated in National Talent exactly 10 years after I participated in National Talent, myself.”

“It is awesome when little things like that come around,” she continued. “Here I am teaching and inspiring students to get out of their comfort zone and reach for the stars after my own Ag Teacher did the same for me.”

The overall experience for the group attending the National Convention was memorable, according to Turbyfill. This year marked a record number of participants from the Cloudland Chapter attending the National Convention with a total of 17 students, advisors, and guests.

“The National FFA Convention is an eye-opening experience for students from such a rural area as Roan Mountain,” Turbyfill said. “The convention is held in Downtown Indianapolis. We tour several farms and agricultural enterprises in surrounding areas. This year we toured Beasley’s Apple Orchard, Dixie Chopper’s Lawn Mower Manufacturing Plant, and the Indianapolis Speedway.”

“Students networked and communicated with numerous Agricultural and Land Grant Universities and Businesses, as well as meeting FFA members from literally every state, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam,” she continued. “The experiences and memories made at this convention are irreplaceable, and cannot be bought.”

Turbyfill said she and the Chapter would like to extend a huge “thank you” to the Roan Mountain community for their continuing support of the CHS FFA Chapter. Currently, the Chapter is holding their annual fruit sale, and those interested in purchasing fruit can contact Cloudland High School for more information.