Vilonia FFA students complimented on their manners at recent banquet...

Awards were handed out and speakers shared stories, at a recent banquet, as to the benefits of being a member of the Vilonia Future Farmers of America.

Retired Greenbrier High School vocational agriculture teacher Patrick Breeding was among the speakers. Vilonia FFA president Drew List introduced Breeding as a teacher “who has been an inspiration to students across the state.”

Prior to the speaking engagement, Breeding said he contacted several former students and asked about the Vilonia FFA program. He learned, he said, the program is a little old school, teaches life skills and has excellent role models. He said he also received a few funny stories regarding Vilonia FFA teachers Harold McCain, Craig Dewey and Monica Griffin. Standing on stage, he teased with teachers and students sitting in the audience. On a serious note, he referred to the program as “outstanding and the sponsors as exceptional role models."

“To me role models are more important than X’s and O’s in the classroom,” he said. He complimented Vilonia FFA students regarding their manners who, he said, have been taught to say yes, sir and no, mam.  

“You ought to be awfully tickled at what you have here,” he said. “I would see you at the fair and I would want my students to act and look the way you do here.”

A piece of advice for students, he told them if they cross pastures to fish or hunt, they should do it in a timely manner.

“Make sure you can do it in 9 seconds because a bull can do it in 10,” Breeding offered.

Breeding, who taught for more than 30 years, received the 2007 Outstanding Teacher Award from the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) for Region II.

List was the last speaker for the event.  He shared a few of his experiences in the program and why he made the decision to become a member in the ninth grade. FFA, he said, can make an impact on students’ lives.  List said he was born with mild cerebral palsy.

“That meant my legs didn’t work like they should have,” he said. Providing details, he said he wore braces on his legs from his second year of pre-school until seventh grade. When the braces were removed, he said, he “tried” several things including track and field and band. He said he was extremely shy and didn’t seem to fit into anything.

In the ninth grade, he said, he was asked by Dewey to join FFA and “finally found where I needed to be.”

He detailed his dire efforts to learn the program’s creed and his reciting it at a state convention. 

“I competed in Fayetteville and, out of 25, I placed second. This organization can change lives,” he said. Take heart in what FFA has taught you in the past year, he said, addressing students.

“Open up your heart. Don’t be afraid to get up and be a creed speaker—even if you are the shyest kid in class,” he said. In conclusion, he quoted Henry Ford saying ‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right,” with List adding “the only person that can hold you back is you.”

  An audience of more than 200, the room was full of students wearing blue FFA jackets. The cafeteria was decorated with posters saying “Amplify,” “boost your impact.” Members said it is this year’s convention theme encouraging everyone to make an impact on the community and the world.

During the three-hour event, judging teams were recognized and statistics were announced. It was said that 9 of the 13 Vilonia teams qualified for state. Leadership awards were presented. Some members received handmade plaques for accomplishments and those recognized as being top judgers were rewarded with “one of the handiest tools on the farm.” While pocket knives are prohibited at school, it was said that to a “good old boy on the farm,” a pocketknife is a hand tool.

Carol Montgomery, high school secretary, received the honorary chapter farmer award for her support. FFA member Jill Cates received the Star Greenhand Award. The DeKalb Award went to Megan Lee. The Jesse Bush Scholarship was awarded to Drew List. The McEntyre/Turner Scholarships were awarded to McKenzie Metz and Katie Holubar.

The List Family of Vilonia including Linda, Drew and Andy, were named the Vilonia High School FFA Farm Family of the Year. Drew, a high school senior, is president of the Vilonia FFA.  

The 2015-16 Chapter Officer Team is Drew List, president; Megan Lee, vice-president; Bailee Jo Thorn, secretary; Peyton Ward, treasurer; Connor Ballentine, reporter; Zac Bryant, sentinel and Katie Holubar, junior advisor.

Dewey, McCain and Griffin were also presented gifts by List.