U student might serve as national FFA president

The FFA president visits high schools across the nation to promote agricultural careers and joining FFA.

Beth Hornby

Some students take a year off school to travel the world, and others to work.

But Beth Lauwagie is hoping she will spend the next year leading FFA – an organization formerly called Future Farmers of America.

This week, Lauwagie is in Louisville, Ky., undergoing a series of interviews to become the president of FAA – the world’s largest youth leadership organization.

In the nearly 80 years Minnesota has been in the national FFA, no Minnesotan has served as national committee president, but Minnesota FFA nomination committee Chairman Alan Krysan said this year will be different.

“She’s done all she can do to prepare to be a national officer,” Krysan said. “We’re extremely optimistic and hopeful that she will attain her goal.”

Lauwagie, a former FFA state officer, is competing against 30 other FFA members from across the country for a position on the national committee.

Krysan said Lauwagie’s selection as president would benefit the state group.

“It would take the entire Minnesota association to another level at preparing national leaders,” Krysan said.

In addition to interviews, Lauwagie will have to give group presentations, formal speeches and attend workshops. Although there are no formal criteria, the presidential selection will be based on the candidates’ performances.

Although she is also running for central region vice president and secretary, Lauwagie is aiming for the presidency so she can advocate agricultural education.

“I know that a lot of us are amazingly qualified for the position,” Lauwagie said. “The nomination committee has a very tough job this year.”

The FFA president is the main voice to encourage students to seek agriculture careers and join FFA. The president spends the year visiting high schools and speaking for the association throughout the country.

The FFA is composed of students from 13 to 21 years old. The Minnesota FFA has eight regions and more than 9,000 members. Nationwide, FFA has more than 454,000 members.

In addition to advocating agricultural education, FFA also facilitates 23 types of competitions, including livestock judging and agricultural mechanics.

Although the presidency is an unpaid office, Lauwagie said she would benefit from it in other ways.

“This is a great opportunity to gain an understanding of other agricultural regions other than Minnesota,” Lauwagie said. “In the end, it is about helping and seeing members succeed.”

Agriculture college program director and former FFA member Mary Buschette was on the nominating committee that selected Lauwagie to run for president. Buschette said Lauwagie was selected based on her unwavering commitment.

“As president, I have no doubt that she would have a lot of influence on other members and inspire others to do great things,” Buschette said.

Krysan said the committee helped Lauwagie prepare for her interviews since May.

“We’ve provided the resources and she has committed a lot of personal study time to learning numerous agricultural facts and figures,” Krysan said. “She even went to the State Capitol last week and met with legislators to learn more about the legislative process.”

The national member selections will be announced at the convention in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday afternoon.