Ohio State ATI Students Elected to Ohio FFA State Office Positions

Written By Lexi Troyer

Caleb Bennett and Gracie Sprague, Ohio State ATI sophomores majoring in Agriscience Education, along with Layna Gordon, an incoming freshman in the same program at ATI, exemplify what it is like to be a leader and scholar. All three have been elected to serve on the 2024-2025 Ohio FFA State Officer Team, expressing their excitement for the year ahead and gratitude towards those who have mentored them to this prestigious honor.

Caleb Bennett was recently elected to serve as the 2024-2025 Ohio FFA State Sentinel. Caleb shares that “the sentinel is stationed by the door, meaning I am to be one of the first faces to welcome members and guests at meetings and events.” Caleb got started in FFA through his middle school FFA chapter, where he gained an interest in going to competitions and competing. His dad also guided him to find interest in FFA, as he is a current FFA advisor and agriculture educator. When it came to running for state office, Caleb was encouraged to apply by one of his best friends from high school, who had also previously served as a State Officer.

Reflecting on his high school FFA experience, Caleb explained that he spent his sophomore year of high school serving as a non-constitutional officer. This means he was there to step in if any of the other officers were absent or needed additional help with a task. His junior year was spent serving as Treasurer and receiving his gold pin for completing a state-rated gold treasurer’s book. His high school officer experience did not end there, though, as he spent his senior year serving as his chapter’s President.

Anticipating the year ahead, Caleb is looking forward to spending another year at Ohio FFA Camp, this year as a State Officer. He is also eager to attend the 2024 State Officer Summit which is held in Washington D.C. When asked about his goals as a State Officer, Caleb said, “I want to learn how agriculture is practiced in different parts of the state and even across the nation.” After college, Caleb has plans to become an agriculture educator in a high school classroom or become a county Extension agent.

Gracie Sprague was elected at the 96th Ohio FFA Convention to serve as one of five 2024-2025 State Vice Presidents at Large. She shares that her task alongside other officers is “to promote Ohio FFA and encourage members from across the state to become involved with FFA.” As a proud third generation FFA member, Gracie’s own involvement with the FFA program began her freshman year of high school when she enrolled in an introductory course called “Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources.” This class, along with her 4-H involvement, led her to further her interest in FFA and agriculture. In high school, Gracie served her chapter as the President throughout her junior and senior years, giving her insight into being a successful officer.

When asked about applying for state office, Gracie shared she was not only inspired by her family and Ohio State alumni who were also FFA involved, but past Ohio FFA State Officers from as far back as 30 years ago as well. Enthusiastic about the year ahead, Gracie is most looking forward to attending Ohio FFA Camp as a state officer. She explained, “It will be a change from attending camp for five days as a member to attending camp for two months as a state officer.” She acknowledged some of the highlights of camp being outdoor fun, guest speakers, and leadership sessions. Gracie also expressed interest in applying for the International Leadership Seminar for State Officers, which takes place this year in Spain and Portugal.

With approximately 30,000 students involved with the Ohio FFA Association, Gracie has set a goal for herself to connect with as many members as possible throughout her year of service. She emphatically states, “I want to let members know that I believe in their potential as a member of the Ohio FFA program.” After college, Gracie looks to become an agriculture educator and/or FFA advisor at the high school level.

Layna Gordon was elected at the 2024 Ohio FFA State Convention to serve as the State Treasurer for the 2024-2025 term. She notes that her task with this position is much like the responsibilities that other officers on the team have: “We all work to support members and advance the Ohio FFA Program.” Following in the footsteps of her mom, grandpa, and great grandpa, Layna began her involvement with the FFA program during her freshman year of high school. She said that at first, she questioned if FFA was for her, although when she began entering public speaking contests, she quickly noticed an improvement in her communication skills. From then on, she realized the positive impact that FFA can have on someone’s life.

While in high school, Layna served as her chapter’s Secretary during her sophomore year and as President during her junior and senior years, further enhancing her experience in FFA. When it came time to apply for state office, Layna found inspiration from past State Officers. She remarked, “I looked up to previous State Officers, most often at FFA Camp. They were always excited no matter how tired they were and were also very supportive to younger members.”

One of Layna’s primary goals for the upcoming year is to meet as many people as possible and support them through any mental or physical challenges they may face. She is excited about upcoming events like FFA Camp, banquets, leadership nights, and chapter visits across the state to learn how inner-city chapters differ from rural ones. After college, Layna aspires to become an agriculture educator but is open to new opportunities that may come her way.

All elected Ohio FFA State Officers complete a rigorous application process where 50 applicants compete for state-level positions. The application process includes a written application, a video presentation of “Why I Desire to Serve as an Ohio FFA Officer,” a writing exercise, and two interviews. If slated for state office, candidates then give their “Why I Desire” presentation live to the delegates during the voting process.

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