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U.S. Representative Jason Smith addresses FFA degree ceremony

Jackson High School’s FFA chapter hosted its degree ceremony on Jan 23, giving out 39 greenhand degrees and 28 chapter degrees. U.S. Representative Jason Smith attended the ceremony and spoke on how FFA can transform lives.

“This is an organization that changed my life, and it can change any of your lives if you just allow it to happen,” Smith said.

He told the students about his FFA project when he was in the organization as a freshman in high school in his hometown of Salem.

“I bought four dogs, and I had them right next to my dad’s auto repair shop in Salem,” Smith said. “We lived in town, and it was between our trailer and my dad’s auto repair shop. In March of that year, I got summoned by the city council in Salem because I was running a commercial business in a residential area.”

Smith spoke in front of the city council several times to try to keep his FFA project. Though he ultimately lost, Smith said it made him start paying attention to government and allowed him to grow from a shy kid who couldn’t say the entire FFA Creed in public.

“Whenever you come to my office in Washington D.C., you’ll see the very first thing I put up in that office — my framed FFA jacket from Salem,” Smith said.

He said the organization taught him to have direction, dedication and determination. Smith urged the students to stay with the program to learn these skills, no matter what career they decide to pursue.

To be eligible for the greenhand FFA degree, members must demonstrate a knowledge of the FFA bylaws and history, know FFA symbols and creed, be enrolled in an agricultural class and have plans for a supervised agricultural experience.

The recipients of the greenhand degree were: Landon Ahrens, Gracie Balance, Hunter Bellew, Do-minic Bellis, Lane Bollinger, Alissa Bomar, Hunter Borgfield, Jena Brady, Alexandria Brown, Hannah Brunke, Mackenzie Chal-mers, Michael Crittenden, Joshua Cunningham, Montana DeSpain, Kyle Dobbs, Cooper Emmons, Kaitlyn Eskew, Alyssa Gregory, Julie Hatheway, Taylor Hennecke, Hayley Huber, Klayton Hunt, Jennifer Knowlton, Haven Laclair, Elizah Martin, Mason Martini, Bryce Norman, Dakota Ogle, Cole Parker, Emily Peters, Keegan Reker, Clayton Sanders, Rebeca Scott, Logan St. Cin, Rebecca Stricker, Rebecca Sumner, Jimmy Tankersley, Devon Thurm and Paige Wills.

The chapter FFA degree is given to an FFA chapter’s top member. To be eligible for this degree, members must have received the greenhand FFA degree, effectively led a group discussion for 15 minutes, completed at least 180 hours of agricultural education, participated in three chapter programs, earned at least $150 or worked 45 additional hours, completed 10 hours of community service and have shown progress toward individual achievement in FFA.

The recipiants of the chapter degree were: Luke Brady, Aaron Brown, Carson Chil-ders, Parker Clements, Lane Crowden, Michaela Dyer, Chance Edwards, Libby Ezzell, Elizabeth Ford, Gabriel Fox, Layton Hahn, Tyler Harris, Jaleah Hess, Hunter Hoxworth, William Huffman, Brittney Koenig, Grady Livingston, Thomas Mills, Lucy Monroe, Alexa Mudro, Cade Rogers, Luke Sams, Dalton Skrob, Zachary Smith, Thomas Stoverink, Trenton Weber, Hailey Yates and Jesse Yount.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at

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