By: Caitlin Powers
At the 86th National FFA Convention in Louisville, KY, ALEC faculty and students were recognized for their outstanding commitment to FFA by receiving Honorary American FFA Degrees and American FFA Degrees.
Associate Professor Lori Moore, Ph.D. and Assistant Professor John Rayfield, Ed.D. received the Honorary American FFA Degree on November 1 at the National FFA Convention. The award recognizes individuals who advance agricultural education and FFA through outstanding personal commitment.
The National FFA Organization noted the accomplishment of these recipients in a press release that said “without the efforts of highly dedicated individuals, thousands of young people would not be able to achieve success that, in turn, contributes directly to the overall well-being of the nation.”
The degree is an opportunity to recognize those who have gone beyond valuable daily contributions to make and extraordinary long-term difference in the lives of students. Rayfield has done just this through his involvement by serving on committees and task forces.
He has served a three year term on the National FFA Career Development Event (CDE) Advisory Board and has been an associate superintendent for one of the CDE’s for the last nine years.
“I did all that and never expected to get anything for it,” Rayfield said. “It’s just one of those things you do for the good of the organization and to make sure kids and teachers have a good experience at convention.”
Rayfield’s dedication to FFA is nothing new. He was a member of the Weogufka, Alabama FFA Chapter while in high school. As an FFA member, Rayfield received all the FFA degrees up to his state degree and was a National Proficiency Award finalist.
Rayfield had his American FFA Degree application and materials all together but his agricultural science teacher did not enroll him as an FFA member that year. This made him ineligible to receive his American FFA Degree, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a member.
The only way he would be able to receive the degree that recognizes the highest level of commitment to FFA would be to receive the Honorary American FFA Degree. Rayfield’s trip to Louisville finally brought light to his lifelong commitment to the FFA.
“I’m happy to be recognized by an organization that I hold near and dear to my heart,” Rayfield said.
Agricultural communications and journalism sophomore, Steely Burk traveled to Louisville to receive her degree at convention.
“It was surreal to get to walk across the stage in Louisville, Kentucky and hear my name called in front of thousands of people,” Burk said.
As an FFA member, Burk held numerous leadership positions including chapter president for two years, participated in Leadership Development Events (LDEs) and showed livestock. Burk said FFA has taught her to have confidence in herself, how to work well with others and how to build up other members.
“FFA has really given me hope for the future generations,” Burk said.
The American FFA Degree is awarded to members who have graduated from high school one year prior to the National FFA Convention and have had a record of outstanding leadership skills among other qualifications.
“To be selected out of the thousands that applied makes me know I’m doing something right,” Burk said. “It’s an honor to be recognized by the National FFA organization long after I hung up my corduroy jacket.”