By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Lindsey Knotts, native of the Sugarland area, and is currently a junior at Potomac State College of West Virginia University studying sustainable agriculture entrepreneurship. Knotts recently attended the National FFA (Future Farmers of America) Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana where she made her mark in FFA history. Knotts became the first female and only the second student from TCHS to receive her FFA American Degree, an honor less than one percent of all FFA members receives. The requirements to obtain this merit are to have been out of high school for at least twelve months, have operational and good records, three years of agriculture classes, and fifty hours of community service. As if that isn’t enough, the candidate must have also earned at least $10,000 and invested $7,500 in an operation, or worked two thousand five hundred unpaid hours and earned $1,500, which is the route Knotts took working on her family farm.
It all began when Knotts joined an agriculture class her freshman year of high school. “I began very shy and wasn’t much for speaking to people”, she recalled. As a freshman requirement within FFA, one must learn and recite the creed. “Those five paragraphs by E.M. Tiffany started it all for me”, Knotts stated. She began with the creed contest qualifying for the state level competition which developed into her involvement with judging beef, competing in agronomy contests, prepared speaking events, and attending any FFA event she could. “I began having the wish of one day maybe being one of those “famous” FFA members who wore those association jackets; the ones FFA members look up to”, Knotts admitted. “They came to regional activities and did chapter workshops. They were the big people and I found so much interest in them. It was my goal I set early on in my time in FFA”, she said.
Knotts continued making her way up through the officer ranks in her school chapter all the way to President her senior year. Much of her time was writing speeches and preparing for her next contest. FFA students have what are known as SAE, or supervised agricultural experience, which can be gained in several different ways. For Knotts, it began mostly showing her lambs and goats at the fair her freshman year, however that changed quickly. “I started my own sheep flock which began from one lamb being donated back into my own little flock of sheep”, Knotts said. Now she has a successful breeding operation that she can sell from annually.
Hours stacked up in her record book as she also worked on her family beef farm. She is not afraid of work, participating in everything from building fence, feeding cattle, shoveling manure, and helping raise healthy, nutritious animals. “I volunteered one summer at Horseshoe Camps to be a counselor”, Knotts added. She also worked evenings at the TCHS greenhouse, working up to greenhouse manager her senior year. “Once in college, I added another to my SAE working on Potomac Farms with beef cattle and market goats”, she explained.
Knotts earned her State FFA Degree her senior year in high school. Requirements are to practice parliamentary procedure law, twenty five hours community service, lead a fifteen minute group discussion, maintain satisfactory scholastic record, and earned and invested at least $1,000 into an operation. She also served a year as the WV State FFA Eastern Region Vice President. “It truly was a great honor to me to not only be representing the state, but to travel throughout my region to do workshops with FFA members”, she exclaimed. “I spent most of my time advocating for agriculture and the importance of telling our story”. “My workshops were based towards being a leader and learning all the knowledge about agriculture that you can. As an FFA member, you are able to learn this huge amount of information and gain so much experience that not everyone gets”, Knotts explained.
Knotts continued describing her desire to continue within the agriculture industry as she continues her studies. “FFA has impacted my life because it has taught me the true need to always be advocating for Agriculture. It has taught me there is a need to encourage girls that this too can be for them”, Knotts continued. Her desire is to share her story with others who may be just like her. A shy female or a non-farmer can also become an FFA member and instill in them so much more than just agriculture. “Most importantly, FFA has instilled a passion for agriculture within that I will be one to carry on the legacy. It makes it easy to be connected to all types of agriculturalists. FFA has a place for everyone and it truly makes you believe in the future of Agriculture”, Knotts concluded.