n last week, a group of six eighth grade girls claimed top honors for the first time in West Liberty FFA Chapter history.
The girls formed the Ag CSI (Career and Science Investigation) team and FFA advisor Zach Morris couldn’t be more proud, taking the honors after finishing in the top three the past five year, previously winning the honor in 2016.
Mia Gingerich, Madi Stulz, Daisy Kivi, Sophia Buysse, Ava Morrison and Jada Maas, all first time members of the FFA, claimed the state title, but Morris insists the group may have had some inspiration from their older siblings, all present or former member of the organization.
The girls, however, give the credit to Morris, saying he had prepared them extremely well for the competition in the presentation held before about 30 FFA members and judges.
“Morris did a great job of preparing us,” said Buysse, noting the team was “100 percent prepared” in just about every way possible, adding that FFA has taught the group not only public speaking, but time management, organization skills and a lot about the ag industry.
Only a couple of the girls actually live on a farm, but the girls say that simply proves “you don’t have to come from a farm to be in FFA,” noting the industry has a lot of opportunities beyond the farm.
Most of the girls never imagined being part of FFA, but have no regrets today. Stulz, however, knew years ago she would be part of FFA in West Liberty, noting she was “looking forward to it.”
“When I could do it, I thought this is awesome. Let’s see what I can get into,” Stulz said.
Kivi said she never planned to be part of FFA, but is glad she found the organization, noting it was “not as bad” as kids might think. Gingerich said she was “half and half” in deciding to become an FFA member, but said she “heard it would make a big impact on me.”
That it’s already done ¬– and the girls have four more years to enjoy success, learn and get even better at what they do. “It was a relief when we found out we’d won,” said Buysse.
Kivi called the convention “really fun,” other girls noting it was fun meeting fellow FFA members from other schools throughout the state. The girls said the most important part of the convention was “bonding as a team,” noting although it was fun to present and win an award, but more important to bond as six young girls who had worked together for months on their presentation.
Many of them had never spoke in public before joining FFA and said although it was huge being on the stage at the state convention, their biggest audience of the year was at the local FFA banquet, where they presented before all their chapter peers as well as dozens of parents.
Morris said the fact all six of the girls have older siblings in FFA was “kinda cool” but said the team adjusted to situations beyond the COVID-19 pandemic to become a great team.
“It felt really good that this team won being it’s their first year,” Morris said, pointing out the girls have a lot of future leadership potential.