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The annual Illinois State FFA Convention was held June 14-16 at the Springfield BOS Convention Center. This convention is held for Illinois FFA members and Chapters to receive awards and recognition for their hard work and efforts at contests, community service, and leadership activities throughout the year. This year the Taylorville FFA Chapter and it’s members received numerous awards and honors! Some of these awards are the highest-ranking honors given by the Illinois State FFA Association!
Lacey Declerck, Lizzie Schafer, and Cole Paulek started the week by competing in the State Public Speaking Events. In order to qualify for these events, members had to win their Section and District competitions. Lacey DeClerck presented her prepared speech on the feral hog problem in America and was named 2nd runner up in the State. Lizzie Schafer competed in the State Job Interview contest and placed 4th overall. Cole Paulek competed in the Extemporaneous Public Speaking Contest and was a Top Ten Finalist.
The Taylorville FFA Chapter was awarded their State Livestock Judging Champion plaque on stage, while Waylon Paulek was presented the award for high individual overall in the event. This team has been extremely successful over the past two years and will be representing Taylorville, Illinois, and the United States next week at the World competition in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The success did not stop here, Taylorville FFA competed very well in the State FFA Agriscience Fair. Abby Norris and Abby Erlenbush were named the state winners in the area of social systems and advanced to the first round of national competition. Their project on meat science and public opinion will be evaluated through an application process and the top ten projects will be selected to compete at the National Convention in October. This project won the Illinois Women Changing the Face of Agriculture Award. Other Taylorville FFA students that were named state winners and recommended to advance to the national competition were Jay Bliler and Drew Mickey with their project that studies the effects on iron in water on feeder calf production. “ We are very proud of these kids. Taylorville is the only chapter in the state that had four students in the Top 5 Projects Overall.” says advisor Sue Schafer.
Drew Mickey was named the State Proficiency Award Winner in the area of Diversified Agriculture Production Entrepreneurship. For the past two years, Drew has put several hours of work into his Corn, Soybean, Wheat, Beef, and Swine project. He is the third FFAmember in the history of THS FFA to win a State Proficiency Award as a sophomore. Lizzie Schafer was the State Winner in the area of Beef Production Placement. Her project involved working at Schafer Stock Farm with Angus cattle. “Winning a state proficiency award is a huge honor and something that students strive for. Lizzie and Drew have worked very hard for this award. Most chapters are lucky to have one student win, we are truly blessed to have such talented students that achieve this high level of success!” Says advisor Katie King.
Briar McLaughlin and Lizzie Schafer also received the high honor of the State FFA Degree. Both students were Section and District Stars. This is the title that is given to the best State Degree at these levels and gave students the rank of being the Top Five in the State of Illinois. Lizzie was named the State Champion and presented the title of Star Over Illinois in Agriscience. “I am very proud of these students. Many Chapters are lucky to have 1 Star Finalist every decade, but to have 2 of our students have stepped up and attained the high honor in one year is rare. This degree took these students 3 to 4 years of hard work and effort, they have been dedicated to not only the FFA Program, but community service activities as well. Over the past 24 years, Taylorville FFA has had more Illinois Stars than any chapter in the state by a large margin. ” Says advisor Katie King.”
Taylorville FFA also had two FFA members represent the chapter as delegates at the state convention. Lilly Winans and Ben Wamsley had the opportunity to vote and elect the 2022-2023 Officer Team, help make FFA constitutional changes, and approve new pieces of FFA legislation.
Abby Norris was selected to work alongside top reporters in the agriculture industry at the Farm Credit Press Booth for the 94th Illinois FFA Convention. She assisted with organizing students for photos and pushed out press releases for the state.
For the second time the Taylorville FFA was invited to the State Greenhand Quiz Bowl. Chapters were selected for this competition by winning their Section event in the fall. The Taylorville Team was composed of Lilly Winans, Ben Wamsley, Wade Sorrill, Hannah Hartwig, Ian Parks, and was coached by Abby Norris. The team won their first match and received honorable mention.
For the first time, Lizzie Schafer was asked to be the Keynote Speaker at the Illinois Foundation Leadership Luncheon and presented her speech titled “Play Ever Card You are Dealt” to a crowd of 350 people. She was given this opportunity due to the success achieved throughout her FFA Career.
The Taylorville FFA Chapter was named a Superior Gold Emblem Chapter. Taylorville was awarded this honor by competing in the National Chapter Awards Program. Officers and Advisors from the Taylorville Chapter submitted descriptions and photographs of Student Development, Chapter Development, and Community Development activities that Chapter FFA members took part in throughout the year. Throughout the year, the THS FFA Chapter takes part in numerous community service and student development activities. “The Taylorville FFA Chapter has seen success before, and continued the tradition at the 2022 convention! Our students have accomplished awards and degrees that take years of practice and effort to attain. Some FFA Chapters are lucky to receive two or three awards at this convention, our Chapter has attained numerous different individual and chapter awards. I believe that this success shows how hard our students work to achieve their goals! I am very proud to be one of their teachers and advisors,” says Sue Schafer 26 year THS Ag FFA Instructor).