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WHS Graduate Elizabeth Knight Achieves State Office in the FFA

by Parker Montour

As a city girl, I know little to nothing about the Future Farmers of America and, of course, farming. I figured that writing a report on Elizabeth Knight, an FFA reporter and former Walkersville student, would be a wonderful way to learn more about the group. I hope that this article will open a door for others to what goes on in FFA along with the struggles and achievements of Knight.  

“Well I got a taste of the agricultural industry when I took a horseback riding camp when I was 6 years old. As soon as I stepped foot onto that farm I knew horseback riding was something that I wanted to do. I have currently been riding horses for the past 12 years. Some of my family in Kentucky were/are involved in the horse industry there so that also sparked my interest in horses. So since I was 6 my passion for horses and the ag industry just kept growing. When I was signing up for classes for freshman year at the end of 8th grade I noticed that Walkersville offered a course called Horse Care Management,” said Elizabeth Knight.

“When I saw this I got really excited and decided to take the course. Now, before high school, I had heard about FFA and knew a little about what it was, but I didn’t really know how to join or what it really entailed. Once I got to the high school I learned that at Walkersville if you are enrolled in an AG class you are automatically put into the school’s FFA chapter. I participated in my first CDE which stands for Career Development Event my freshman year, which was the horse judging CDE. My team placed third.

“Then signing up for classes for sophomore year came around and I unfortunately didn’t have room in my schedule to take an ag class, taking me out of the FFA for a year. When junior year sign up rolls around I make sure to make the room in my schedule to take an ag class. Junior year I signed up for Horticulture 1. I participated in my second CDE this year. Mr. Stull (one of the ag teachers and the Walkersville FFA Advisor) knew that I was working on the yearbook that year and that I had skills in the area of communication, he told me about the Agricultural Communications CDE” said Knight.

“When he told me about this I was so delighted, this CDE really interested me because it was a way for me to use the technology skills and publication work that I had learned and apply it to agriculture. It’s a three person team so it was my job to find two others to be on the team with me. I found two other people to be on the team with me and from there we competed at the Maryland FFA State Convention. We were the second place team. This is the first State Convention I attended for FFA. The atmosphere there was just amazing. It was so cool seeing so many people from all over the state sharing a passion for agriculture just like I did. It was at this very state convention where I decided the Agricultural Industry is what I wanted to go into.

“There was two state officers from Walkersville on the state office team at that time, Dalton Clabaugh and Maegan Olson. It was so cool to see people that I knew from my home town serving as state officers. At the very last day of convention, pretty much the last thing announced they announce the new state officers. It was amazing to see the energy that was going through the room during this time. So much support pouring out for the state officer candidates and excitement to see who will run the state for 2014-2015. Nobody from Walkersville had run for state office for that year. After state convention was over the thought of running for state office crossed my mind, who wouldn’t want to be a part of such a great organization?

“I unfortunately wasn’t really involved with FFA that much during my junior year so I didn’t run for a chapter office for the upcoming year. However, when it got closer to fall and the Walkersville community showtime I found out about the Ambassador position for the chapter. My advisor and friends urged me to run for this position, and I ended up getting it. For my position I was asked by Kenneth Kellar from the Woodsboro Times to write monthly articles about our chapter and FFA. This was an awesome opportunity and I was so grateful for it since I wasn’t actually on the chapter officer team. I was friends with many of the chapter officers so they treated me as though I was on the team with them.

“Throughout my senior year I attended leadership conferences with the chapter officers and really got and in-depth look at FFA. Although I wasn’t competing I still attended The national convention held in Louisville Kentucky in the Fall of 2014. This made me love FFA even more. It was like state convention but on a so much bigger scale. There were members from the state of Alaska to Puerto Rico, and from the state of Maine to Hawaii. It was truly amazing to see so many people supporting each other and that had the same passion as you do. This just confirmed for me that I want to do something in the agricultural industry as a career.

“Once we come back from National convention I came back with an even bigger passion for agriculture and the FFA. In the spring my advisor told me about the extemporaneous public speaking CDE; speaking in front of people was not one of my favorite things to do, but he told me to give it a try. Mr. Stull always seemed to know what CDE’s were best for me to do, and he tried to get me to go out of my comfort zone and try new things. I went into the extemp CDE with so many nerves but I came out of it realizing public speaking actually isn’t that bad.

“ I ended up placing in the top half of the group which I didn’t think was too bad for someone who went in to it hating public speaking. Then spring judging time rolled around and I was asked to be on the Milk Quality and Products CDE Team due to them being down a member. I thought I would give it a shot. Our team ended up placing 5th. This was around the time that State Officer Applications were due for the 2015-2016 year. I had bounced the idea around in my head about possibly running but I wasn’t sure. I had already been accepted to The University of Kentucky for the fall of 2015, my dream school. It would not be possible for me to attend UK and serve as a Maryland State FFA Officer at the same time.

“ I debated on if I should run, if I should go to UK for a year and then come back and run, or if I just shouldn’t run at all. I wasn’t sure how good my chances even were for a State Office position since I never actually ran for a chapter office. I talked to several people (parents, friends, my horseback riding trainer, my FFA advisor) about their opinion on what I should do since I was so conflicted. My trainer gave me really good advice that stuck with me; she told me that I only had so much time to run for State Office, college is something that will always be there.

“ I decided to take my trainers advice and run for a state office position. Three other Walkersville High school students were running for state office so I wasn’t sure how good my chances were. They have done two officers from the same school but I knew they wouldn’t put all four of us on the team since the team is made up of six individuals from all over the state. Interviews took place on a weekend in May. There was 16 candidates running this year. Almost twice as many that ran the previous year. I came home from interviews knowing I gave it my best shot. I also like previous trips came back with an even deeper love for the FFA. The people I met at interviews were so passionate about ag and FFA and it truly made me realize what makes this organization as amazing as it is.”

She said that there was about a month in between interviews. Knight had it set up at UK where if she got state office they would just decline her acceptance but if she didn’t get state office she would be able to attend UK. State Convention time rolls around and she’s on the agriculture communications team for Walkersville. It was her senior year, so her last shot to get on a Nationals Team.

Her team wins the agricultural communications, CDE, and are moving onto Nationals in November. It was the last day of state convention, last general session of state convention, and it was time for officer elections. They were all grouped together, emotions running on an all-time high. They start playing the famous state officer election song (The Chicago Bulls Theme Song); you know at this point that it is nearing time to find out if she got in office. One of the nominating committee members comes on stage to announce the results. “Your 2015-16 Maryland FFA State Sentinel… From the Brunswick FFA Chapter, Katelyn Allen.” She’s thinking to herself ‘Okay okay, there are 5 other positions and this isn’t the position I put on my application that I wanted most.’ (She wanted to be the reporter) “Your 2015-2016 Maryland FFA State Reporter… From the Walkersville FFA Chapter” -at this point she’s not sure what to think, there are four people from Walkersville, it could be any one of them -“Elizabeth Knight!” “I was so in shock that I sat there for a minute and my friend had to nudge me to get up,” said Knight. She said she was so happy and excited she didn’t even know what to do. She was given a State Association jacket and she said she couldn’t be any prouder to wear that jacket on her back and represent the state.

Greg Stull , agriculture teacher at WHS, said, “She’ll makes a great FFA reporter;  she’ll do anything you ask and do a great job at it too.”

“I personally don’t know Elizabeth knight too well or much about her, other then her job but she’s awesome!” said sophomore Haliey Bodmer.

The other officers are as follows:
State Sentinel- Katelyn Allen: Brunswick FFA Chapter
State Reporter- Elizabeth Knight: Walkersville FFA Chapter
State Treasurer- Ashley Fuss: Walkersville FFA Chapter
State Secretary- Hannah Adkins: Damascus FFA Chapter
State Vice President- Anna Linthicum: Damascus FFA Chapter
State President- Isabella Kukor: Frederick FFA Chapter

Knight said, “It is truly an honor to be able to represent the state’s FFA.”

Throughout the year they will be visiting chapters throughout the state working with members and teaching them about what FFA is and leadership skills.

This weekend they will be attending the Big E (a New England agricultural fair), where their state’s second place teams have a chance to compete against different states. They will be helping out with the various CDE’s that are going on. Knight was also chosen as the reporter for the awards banquet where she will be serving with other state officers from different areas.

Throughout October 16th-18th, they will be holding their annual COLT (Chapter Officer Leadership Training) conference. This is a chance for chapter officers to meet other chapter officers and develop leadership skills. They will also be holding our Land Judging CDE on October 16th in the same area as COLT.

Along with that, they will be hosting a leadership conference in every region during November.

On January 3rd to the 17th they will be going to South Africa for the ILSSO (International Leadership Seminar for State Officers) trip to learn about agriculture in another country.