University of Delaware student Jenna Byers has been named an FFA National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador for the second year in a row, while UD student Jake Jones has received an FFA Alumni Scholarship.
One of only 20 students nationwide to be named a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador, Byers said that it felt great to be named for the second year in a row and joked that she was, “really happy to find out that I had done ‘Ok’ the first time around.”
As a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador, Byers is required to complete 30 hours of presentations, which she will give to high schools and clubs and organizations, in order to raise awareness of the importance of agriculture and develop and implement sustainable agricultural awareness programs to inspire and motivate local communities.
Through the FFA’s National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador program, more than 103,700 people have learned the value of agriculture, with 88 students from 29 states having served as ambassadors giving 2,160 presentations in 34 states and three foreign countries.
Arba Henry, instructor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics and faculty advisor for the University of Delaware’s Collegiate FFA, said of Byers being named for the second year in a row, “Jenna was the first member of our chapter to be so honored. She is an excellent representative of our chapter, College, and University at the national Level.”
As a second year ambassador, Byers, who majors in food and agribusiness marketing and management, said that she is able to not only learn from her experiences the first time around, but also to share those experiences with her fellow ambassadors. “In addition to being able to do the presentations to different schools and different audiences, I can also work with first year ambassadors and help them.”
It also helps that she can reflect on the presentations she conducted during her first year in the program as she said, “I can pick out probably something from every presentation that I did that I wish I had done differently.”
The most important lesson that she learned, however, was that flexibility is key. “When you’re working with kids, nothing is going to go exactly the way that you planned it but if you have an idea of what you want to talk about in general, you can go in and have a good time and make sure that the students come away with the information. You don’t always have to stick right to the plan.”
Last year, Byers was able to talk with preschool students about how milk gets from a dairy farm to their refrigerator, and had a Girl Scout Troop make ice cream in a bag, which was a good tie in for the UDairy Creamery, where Byers works as marketing manager.
Although she plans to conduct talks at schools and with younger kids again this year, Byers also said that she wants to incorporate more talks geared towards civic organizations. These talks will be more conversational and aimed at addressing topics currently going on in the country, like the drought farmers faced over the summer.
“I’m hoping to be able to talk a lot about the drought situation and the fact that corn prices because of the drought are going to be spiking soon and the effect that we’re going to see from that,” said Byers. “A lot of people who aren’t directly involved in agriculture just see the prices fluctuating and they don’t know the reasons behind it, so I’m hoping to be able to bring some light to that situation.”
Byers also said that being named a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador has had a great impact on recognition for the First State. “The cool thing now is that we have someone from Oregon so now our little slogan is ‘Reaching from Oregon to Delaware.’ So Delaware got a little shout out there, and every time somebody says it I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s me.’”
Jones, a sophomore studying plant science in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, explained that the award he received was “a scholarship awarded to a Delaware high school senior or college student who is studying agriculture.”
Jones has been involved with FFA for four years, three in high school and one at UD, and he heard about the opportunity through an e-mail sent out by Henry.
Henry said of Jones receiving the award, “Jake has been and continues to be an active member of our chapter. Over the summer, Jake interned at the UD Carvel Research Center in vegetable research. During his freshmen year, Jake maintained the highest GPA of all Collegiate FFA freshmen members.”
Jones said that his favorite part about FFA is, “the opportunity for scholarships and community involvement.”
Article by Adam Thomas