Westwood High graduate Matt Johnson receives national FFA degree
It is given to those who demonstrate leadership abilities and outstanding achievements in agricultural business, production, and processing and service programs. To be eligible, members must have earned and productively invested $7,500 through a supervised agricultural experience program.
Johnson received a gold American Degree key and certificate in a blue leatherette frame to commemorate the achievement, one of only 3,168 in the nation and one of 312 in California to be recognized in 2007.
In April 2006, shortly before high school graduation, Johnson was elected sentinel at the statewide FFA conference held in Fresno. Therefore he put college on hold for a year to serve as a California State FFA officer. As sentinel he worked to keep the leadership team together, a position that kept him busy 320 of the 365 days in a year.
At the time of his election he said what he would learn as a State FFA officer would be just as beneficial if not more beneficial than a year of college. He considered the experience a jumpstart to college.
He also said FFA is by far the best youth organization he has ever taken part. During his four years of high school he pushed himself in order to get everything out of it he could including leadership skills, people skills, self-confidence, and ways to be motivated to be a better person and to succeed in life.
To get elected to a State office, Johnson had to submit an application, undergo four rounds of interviews by members of the nominating committee, pass a test on FFA and write an essay. There were 49 FFA members competing for 12 candidate slots. The 5,000 FFA members present at the conference cast their votes after each candidate delivered a short speech.
Johnson, the son of Brian and Marci Johnson, is currently attending Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo after serving his year as a State officer. He is a member of the Westwood FFA chapter.
The National FFA convention where Johnson was honored is the nation’s largest annual youth gathering, welcoming students, parents and educators from all across the United States. There are 7,242 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. A total of 495,046 students are members. Most of the members are preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture.
Until 1988 the organization was known as the Future Farmers of America but due to the growth and diversity of agriculture education the name was changed to the National FFA Organization. Its mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
The recognition program at the 2007 national convention was sponsored by Case IH, The Farm Credit System, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Syngenta. It was a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
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