In addition to five first-place and two second-place finishes at the state’s FFA Alumni Reunion competitions, Tennessee Tech University’s team won the coveted “Outstanding Chapter” award.
The “outstanding” label was last given to TTU’s team eight years ago. Every year since, it has gone to The University of Tennessee, Martin. The organization was formerly known as Future Farmers of America.
“We won big time this year; our students put in a lot of work,” said TTU agriculture professor and club adviser David Frazier. “We’re one of the biggest college chapters in the country and one of our goals was to win outstanding chapter.”
The team’s first-place finishes included prepared speaking; job interview competitions in agricultural professions, agricultural education and agribusiness; and TAAE internship. The team also had the highest-selling basket during the silent auction at the competition, held at Montgomery Bell State Park.
“They have to be so well rehearsed,” Frazier said. “We require people to take classes in other divisions, in every degree in agriculture, so they’re well rounded and they can talk about anything.”
More important than the trophies and bragging rights is the professional preparation the students get during the competitions, Frazier said.
“We’re preparing our students for jobs,” he said. “The industry professionals are coming up to me and saying no one is even close to the quality of our students.”
Many of the students on the team come to TTU with FFA experience from high school. Once on campus, several have become state and national officers within the organization.
This year, TTU has four of the state’s eight officers; a fifth is planning to transfer here in the fall, Frazier said. In back-to-back years, a TTU student has been national FFA vice president for the Southern region. TTU senior Chelsea Rose was the first woman from Tennessee to hold the seat. Junior James Flatt held the seat last year.
“We’re starting to get the best of the best here,” Frazier said. “The TTU alumni who are there are so excited to meet the group and are so proud of them.”