STEPHENVILLE (October 26, 2016) — Ashley Willits, a Tarleton State University agricultural education major from Copenhagen, N.Y., was elected Eastern Region vice president for the National FFA Organization. She will serve on the 2016-17 national FFA officer team along with students from Delaware, Florida, Minnesota, Texas and South Carolina.
Willits is currently a junior at Tarleton and was elected by delegates at the 89th annual National FFA Convention & Expo on Saturday, Oct. 22, in Indianapolis. Her 1-year term as Eastern Region vice president expires next October during the next national convention.
Willits, along with the five other candidates recently elected to FFA officer team, all attended the fifth annual National FFA Officer Preparatory Academy held this past September on Tarleton’s Stephenville campus. The academy is hosted by Tarleton’s College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences and led by Drs. David Fraizer, Rudy Tarpley and Ted Ford.
“We are excited to have a Tarleton State student on the 2016-2017 national FFA officer team,” said Tarleton’s Assistant Professor of Agricultural & Consumer Sciences Dr. David Frazier. “Ashley is going to make a fantastic national FFA officer and will make Tarleton proud as she travels around the country representing more than 600,000 FFA members in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
“We also are excited that all six of the newly elected officers actually attended our national officer workshop a few weeks ago,” he added. “This tells me that, in some small way, Tarleton and our students who helped with the workshop, have played an instrumental role in helping these students as they prepared to run for this elite office.”
A total of 34 candidates representing their respective home state’s FFA Association attended the three-day academy at Tarleton. Among the state FFA associations represented at the 2016 academy were: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
“This is a dream for so many students across the country; however, only six students are chosen each year,” Frazier said of the national officer team. “What an honor to have one of these students call Tarleton home.”
National FFA officers each typically travel more than 100,000 national and international miles to interact with agribusiness and industry leaders, thousands of FFA members and ag education teachers, corporate sponsors, government and education officials, state FFA leaders, the general public, and others.
Willits will travel throughout the Unites States over the course of the next year, as well as to Japan, representing FFA members striving to develop premier leadership, personal growth and career success through the context of agricultural education.
In addition, Willits and the national officers will lead personal growth and leadership training conferences for FFA members throughout the country and will assist with developing policies that will guide the future of FFA and promote agricultural literacy.
Joining Willits on the 2016-17 National FFA Officer team are: President – David Townsend, University of Delaware; Secretary – Victoria Harris, University of Florida; Southern Region Vice President – DeShawn Blanding, North Carolina A&T State University; Western Region Vice President – Trey Elizondo, Texas A&M University; Central Region Vice President – Valerie Earley, University of Minnesota.
Willits is the third Tarleton student to be elected to a position on the national FFA officer team. Past national officers include Cody Nash in 1997-98 and Casey Hogan in 2003-04. Both served as Western Region vice president.