Maine FFA students celebrate accomplishments at 85th annual state convention

Secondary and middle school students in the Maine FFA Association (formerly known as “Future Farmers of America”) celebrated numerous accomplishments during the annual state convention held on May 14-15 at the University of Maine.

5.Safe Tractor Driving is one of 16 competitions held at the 85th annual Maine FFA State Convention
Safe Tractor Driving is one of 16 competitions held at the 85th annual Maine FFA State Convention

Maine FFA marked its 85th year as the leadership organization for secondary and middle school students enrolled in courses related to agriculture and natural resources. With 16 chapters located throughout the state, it numbers over 500 students and includes programs from agriculture to horticulture, forestry and natural resources. The convention included over 200 students, teachers, judges and guests and featured competitions, awards, scholarships, tours, and a review of the year.

Among the guest speakers were Tom Desjardin, Acting Commissioner of Education; Ellis B. Additon, Director of the Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; and Caleb Gustin, National FFA Western Region Vice President, who spoke of the importance of goal setting, persistence and finding one’s strengths.

Maine FFA State President Whitnie Bradbury bestows Honorary State Degree upon Maine DOE employee Elaine Briggs
Maine FFA State President Whitnie Bradbury bestows Honorary State Degree upon Maine DOE employee Elaine Briggs

Students participated in 16 competitions ranging from public speaking to floral arrangements, forestry and safe tractor driving. Over $7,000 in scholarships and awards were presented to students. Judges and volunteers included professors at the University of Maine, Orono, local businesses, the Maine Departments of Education and Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, school teachers and others.

Honorary State FFA Degree recipients this year, based on their service to the Maine FFA, were the Maine DOE’s Elaine Briggs and Dr. Stephanie Burnett, horticulture teacher at the University of Maine. Students winning competitions in Orono will proceed to the regional competitions at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts as well as to the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky where they will be joined by over 60,000 participants from across the country.

For more information on Maine’s agriculture and natural resources education, please contact the Department’s FFA Advisor Doug Robertson at doug.robertson@maine.gov or 624-6744.