West Virginia FFA: A State Officer's Journey 2022-2023
I am Caroline Greenleaf from Reedy, West Virginia, where I live on a farm with red and black Angus cattle, Cheviot sheep, and goats. Throughout high school, I competed in state and national competitions and went on to receive my American Degree in 2021 with my sheep supervised agriculture experience project. I showed market lambs at our local Black Walnut Festival and had a Ham Bacon project. I am currently a senior at West Virginia University and will graduate in spring 2024 with a Bachelor of Science Degree, majoring in Environmental Energy Resource Management from Davis College. I began my internship at Allnex in Pleasants County this spring as the Safety, Health, and Environmental manager’s intern. FFA taught me how to be a better leader and speak in public and prepared me for my future career. After I had graduated high school, I knew I still had something to give back to the FFA for everything it had given me. I decided to run for state office and just retired as the 2022-23 West Virginia State FFA President.
I was elected to the West Virginia FFA State Officer team in July 2022. Three days later, I spent a week with my new teammates learning what a leader is and our expectations for the next year. We also learned our strengths and weaknesses and how to be a team. The next day, we were sent to Washington, DC, where we spent a week with other state officer teams from across the United States. We talked to our senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin about the FFA, the Farm Bill, and what we planned to do this year as state officers. This was an amazing experience and my favorite for the year. We toured monuments in DC and had a wonderful time sitting in National Officer workshops learning how to be a good role model.
In November, I had the opportunity to sit on a Delegate committee at the National Convention and vote on new suggestions and ideas for the National FFA. I spoke with representatives from Bayer and John Deere about future career opportunities for the FFA. Attending National FFA Convention as a state officer was extremely exciting. I enjoyed finding West Virginia members and supporting them at competitions.
In January 2023, I was one of the seventy-five state officers selected to travel to Costa Rica for the International Learning Seminar for State Officers for two weeks. Costa Rica is the size of West Virginia, and we traveled every two days to a new resort. We visited a Wagyu Red Angus beef farm, rescue zoos, dairy farms, schools, and museums. Representing the nation and my home state was an honor.
I have always had an interest in taking photos; this year helped me capture the moments for the members and myself. Taking action shots of the students doing what they love was rewarding. Sharing these photos helped ensure the state saw that the youth of the future was succeeding in a respectful organization.
On the legislator day, the Speaker of the House, Roger Hanshaw, let me take his place as the speaker to recognize the delegates for the chapters to be announced. This was an honor, and I am forever grateful to Mr. Hanshaw for supporting the West Virginia FFA after his state office year. He is truly an FFA role model with all the time he has given.
In January, Cedar Lakes hosted the State Ham Bacon and Egg Sale. Members from across the state came for the annual sale. The sale brought over $72,000 from our various supporters for the members to put towards their State and American degrees.
During our Fall Leadership Conference, the members had the opportunity to make blankets that we donated to the Ruby Memorial Children’s Hospital. A total of 172 blankets were delivered to the hospital in December, just in time for the children to enjoy at Christmas time.
The Mountaineer Food Bank project also was an amazing success. At the state convention this July, the members packed food to be distributed across the state. Members also purchased and assembled hygiene bags. The members and our supporters have raised over $35,000 to utilize for this project.
My teammates are amazing role models for the state. Central Vice President Katie Anderson, an Animal Nutrition major at West Virginia University, and nursing student at Glenville State, McKenzie White, State Secretary both placed second in the nation on their parliamentary team. While also majoring in animal nutrition at WVU, Katelyn Detamore placed first in the National Land Judging competition. Cody Mitchell, an Agriculture Business major at Potomac State from Petersburg, WV, diligently kept up with his school and the members, which can be challenging during the year. Cody has always stayed true to his faith and works to keep the team bonded. Carmen Fogus, an Agricultural Education major at Potomac State College, always shows up for the members with a smile and expresses the importance of building a relationship between advisors and students. Katie Cummings, also an Agriculture Education major, lived in Kansas during her year as a state officer and balanced the demands of college with the responsibilities of her office. Rylee Brown, the sweetest person you will ever meet, has also been such a light on our team with her cheerful outlook and bright smile. Rylee is also an Agriculture Education major. Garrett Ammons has traveled to multiple states visiting other state conventions, showing members the opportunities in the FFA. Garrett, who is also an Agriculture Education major, was also a Speak Ag pioneer and learned to advocate for agriculture at the national level. I am very thankful for my teammates and their different achievements, helpfulness, and kindness this year. Having a diverse team has kept me, and others educated on the different opportunities our state has to offer.
I would like to thank Shelley Moore Capito for her support; Rodger Handsaw for being a great help to the FFA; Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhart for supporting and inspiring the FFA; and the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. I am grateful to my family for encouraging me to educate myself and do as much as I can. My teammates provided endless support. I am thankful to State FFA Advisor Kari Brown and Executive Secretary Danielle Grant for being diligent in their work, helping our team whenever needed, being state-wide role models for everyone, and taking care of our state's organization. I appreciate the members and the advisors of West Virginia for being outstanding in their work and putting in the effort to make FFA what it is today.
I would also like to thank Cedar Lakes and all their support for a place the FFA members can call home.
Throughout this year, I have traveled to another county, thousands of miles and have met thousands of people while being a state officer. The members have made this a successful year by being active participants, representing the state and nation. This has been a rewarding year for me, and I am forever thankful and blessed for this opportunity of serving as a state officer.
West Virginia State FFA President, 2022-2023