One of our favorite Thank You Farmers Project initiatives is the FFA Essay Contest. We love reading the essays thoughtfully written by agricultural students from across the country—the passion these students have for agriculture is inspiring. In 2018, we received over 300 essays and had the difficult job of choosing three winners to receive $7,500, $5,000 and $2,500 for their FFA chapters.
Luke J. from Felicity, Ohio, Kaitlyn H of Mt. Vernon, Illinois, and Clayton B. from Burley, Idaho, were this year’s winners. We caught up with them to find out how their chapters had used the funds they received.
How did your chapter use the funds you won?
Luke: The funds our chapter gained were used for two different trips. The first was The Big E, a regional competition for all of the Eastern states. The funds paid for 10 students’ flights to Hartford, Connecticut. The second was our chapter's National FFA Convention trip. The money we received from Culver’s covered each of our 65 members’ tickets to the Wednesday night concert and two educational tours to a honey farm and a fish hatchery.
Clayton: My advisors and I decided to use that money to lessen the expenses of the trip to the National FFA Convention & Expo. This year Burley FFA is taking 12 kids to Nationals.
Kaitlyn: In addition to reducing the cost for 20 members to attend the National FFA Convention, our chapter is also using these funds to participate in more events at convention. This year, we are able to attend the Wednesday night concert, the rodeo and a tour at a veterinary clinic.
What were your fellow FFA members’ reactions to finding out you were an essay contest winner?
Luke: When the rest of the members found out I had won, they were really surprised. Most people didn’t even know that I submitted an entry, and I honestly didn’t really think that I would win. All in all, it was just a really pleasant surprise.
Clayton: I did the essay on my own, and my fellow members were not aware that I had entered the contest. A lot of them didn’t even know I had won until they found out they had a credit on their convention trip expenses. It is not the work of writing the essay that I will remember; it is the fun that they will have at convention.
Kaitlyn: My fellow FFA members were very supportive and incredibly proud of my results in this essay contest. At first, they did not believe me when I told them I had won; however, once they found out that I was telling the truth, they shared in my excitement!
Why do you think it is important that Culver’s supports FFA?
Luke: Culver’s support of FFA and farmers helps teach citizens about farm life and where their food comes from, because most people today do not know.
Clayton: When businesses such as Culver’s invest in an organization like FFA, they are investing in themselves and our country’s future agricultural leaders. We will become the leaders of agriculture that will provide the world with delicious frozen custard.
Kaitlyn: Without FFA, I would not be the person I am today. I would not have been able to advance my leadership and public speaking skills, further develop my love for animal science, or meet as many amazing people from all across the state of Illinois. Culver’s support of FFA helps students develop a passion for agriculture, a place to belong in the confusing world of high school, and a clearer path to a brighter future. Supporting FFA leads to the development of a great generation of hard-working students, and FFA as a whole is extremely grateful for the support of organizations such as Culver’s.
What are you most looking forward to at the National FFA Convention & Expo?
Luke: Our chapter always has so much fun and packs in as many tours, sessions, speakers and entertainment as possible. I am competing in the agriscience fair and am most excited about competing on the national level. I hope to do well, but I know no matter what my chapter will support me, and I will learn a lot from the experience.
Clayton: I love the keynote speakers. You can learn a lot by listening to a person who has experienced more than yourself.
Kaitlyn: I am excited for the veterinary clinic tour, as I wish to become a veterinarian in the future. I am also excited for the Wednesday night concert and the rodeo. I also can’t wait to meet with some of my prospective colleges at the career expo and meet up with some of the friends I have met on various FFA trips. All in all, I believe this 2018 National FFA Convention will be the best one yet.
See how Luke’s chapter spent their time at the National FFA Convention & Expo:
Each year, over 60,000 FFA members, supporters and guests attend the National FFA Convention & Expo. Learn more about how Culver’s helps students participate in agricultural education events like the convention on our Thank You Farmers Project page.