What is your FFA story? How did you become involved/join?
By Clay Parker, State FFA Secretary
I have had a growing passion for Agriculture since birth as I grew up as the 5th generation on my family’s beef production farm. My livestock exhibition career began when I exhibited swine at the Lowndes Area Market Hog Show during the 1st grade. It was at that time that I worked closely with the Lowndes High School Agriculture Teacher, Mr. Andy Harrison.
All throughout Elementary school, I learned from and admired Mr. Harrison as he assisted me on proper feeding and showmanship techniques of my market hog projects. Mr. Harrison was transferred to a newly opened middle school, Pine Grove Middle, and began an FFA Chapter there. As time passed, I was excited when I finally entered the 6th grade. I walked into the Agriculture classroom and was greeted by Mr. Harrison. I looked around the room and began to feel a sense of home and I quickly realized that this was where I wanted to invest my time. I immediately became an FFA member and began competing in different Career Development Events, broadening my scope of the opportunities in the FFA.
As April of 2012 approached, I was ecstatic to be able to attend the Georgia State FFA Convention. I sat with my chapter during the first general session and was fascinated by the professionalism and role that the state officer team possessed in the arena. I looked at my advisor and said "I want to be one of them one day." From that moment on, my FFA career became more complex as I began to run for chapter office, compete in more CDEs, expand my livestock exhibiting horizons and participate in county-wide FFA events.
Upon entering high school in the 9th grade, I was intimidated by the scale of success and capacity that the Lowndes High FFA Chapter had achieved. However, I did not let this fear stop me from growing my FFA experiences and climbing the FFA degree ladder. I served in leadership roles all four years of high school and began working on Agriscience Fair projects. I was blessed to win the Animal Science division for three years on the state level and represent Georgia Nationally at the National Agriscience Fair where I placed both 7th and 4th.
During my 10th grade year at State Convention, I felt an emptiness inside of me where I thought I could be doing so much more with my FFA career. Inspired by the Wilcox County Agriculture Teacher at that time, Mrs. Shelly Mcquaig, I decided to run for an Area Officer position. I was elected in 2016 as the South Region Area 6 FFA Treasurer and treasured every experience I acquired that year of service. I gained a passion for serving those members around me and connecting with student from across the state. I wanted to continue this experience and therefore applied for Area Office again and was elected as the 2017-2018 President. During this year of service, I also had another goal in mind—to run for State FFA Office. I began my preparation for the strenuous test and interviews that awaited me. This hard work and dedication finally paid off when my name was announced during the 7th session at State Convention as a State Officer.
I am extremely honored to serve Georgia’s 42,000+ FFA members as the 2018-2019 State FFA Secretary. I am excited to spend the next year striving to amplify students FFA experiences around me and witnessing how the FFA and Agriculture has impacted my life. Thus far, connecting with students has completely changed my life and I am thankful that I have the opportunity to work with students on how to support agriculture and become ignited members in this wonderful organization.