SPRINGFIELD (Heartland Newsfeed) — The Illinois Future Farmers of America (FFA) elected their new state officer team Thursday during the 90th annual Illinois FFA Convention at the Bank of Springfield Center, marking the first time in state FFA history that all major state officers are women. The officers were installed in the afternoon to serve in the upcoming 2018-19 term.
Sophia Hortin, 18, of Fisher was elected state president, the seventh woman in the state organization’s history. Hortin, a 2018 graduate of Fisher High School in Champaign County, was an active member of the school’s FFA chapter.
“Being a state officer is about building a better future for the organization and its members,” Hortin said. “It’s about building relationships, leaders for agriculture and a culture that fulfills FFA’s mission of premier leadership, personal growth and career success. It is about helping members build their own success and act upon their dreams.”
Eliza Petry, 17, of Rochelle was elected state vice president. Petry, a 2018 graduate of Rochelle High School in Ogle County, was an active member of the school’s FFA chapter and expresses her continued work to promote the future of agriculture.
“I want to continue being a leader in the FFA family,” Petry says. “I want to help and encourage members to find their place, develop their potential, and leave their mark on the FFA organization.”
Shaylee Clinton, 19, of Ina was elected state reporter. A 2017 graduate of Mount Vernon Township High School in Jefferson County, Clinton currently attends Kaskaskia College in pursuit of a degree of agricultural science education.
“As a state officer, I want to inspire students, help them find their potential, and encourage them to never give up,” Clinton says. “It’s been said to me many times that FFA members are unlike any others, and I’d agree. We have purpose and drive. We are mature and poised and ready to change the world.”
Miriam Hoffman, 18, of Earlville was elected state secretary. The 2018 graduate of Earlville High School in LaSalle County attributes her experience in FFA as a life-changing experience.
“It’s time for me to give back to this organization that has changed my life more than I ever could have imagined,” Hoffman says. “Being a state officer isn’t about the title, the fame, or the glory. It’s about the people you serve, the dreams you inspire, and the lives you change.”
Taylor Hartke, 19, of Teutopolis was elected state treasurer. The 2017 graduate of Teutopolis High School (also in Effingham County) is currently enrolled at Lake Land College in Mattoon as a transfer student studying agriculture.
“As a state officer,” Hartke says, “I want to utilize my positive attitude to encourage and unite members to achieve our mission of making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.”
The group was elected from a pool of ten candidates selected by a committee in the spring and have chosen to delay their collegiate pursuits for a year while representing Illinois FFA as they visit chapters from across the state, conduct workshops, oversee meetings and promote agricultural education.
“These young women are great agriculture advocates,” says Mindy Bunselmeyer, Executive Director of Illinois FFA Center and first female president in the Illinois FFA in 1990. “They, like all FFA members, play a significant role in leading the future of the agriculture industry.”
“Be Bold” was the theme of the three-day convention recognizing the achievements of their members and celebrating agriculture. Over 5,000 members, advisors and guests were in attendance during the event, which hosted a wide range of speakers.
The Illinois FFA is a state affiliate of the national FFA organization, in which the state is represented with over 19,000 of 654,000 national members.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.