Students compete in FFA public speaking at Arkansas State

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The annual FFA Leadership Development Events took place on Tuesday at Arkansas State University.

Dr. David Agnew is the Professor of Agricultural Education at A-State and he said students learn quite a bit from this event.

"Students are participating in Leadership Development Events,"  Agnew said. "This includes public speaking, extemporaneous and prepared speaking, creative speaking, public procedure, the conduct of meetings and discussion. We believe in agriculture education. Technical skills are important, but we also believe the communication skills are important. And so we teach them about parliamentary procedure. How to make effective lead discussions, how to make quick, extemporaneous speeches and prepared speeches. We believe somewhere in their future, they'll be asked to step forward and take a leadership position. When they do, we want them to be experienced in doing so."

Cheyanne Snyder, Hillcrest High School Senior, said she was there to compete in one of the speaking events.

"I'm here for extemporaneous speaking," Snyder said. "It's when I walk into the room and am given a topic. I can choose from three and then I write a speech and deliver it in four to six minutes. My topic was over how agriculture education can prepare future ag teachers and ensure that we don't have a shortage. It was fairly easy for me because it was pretty personal to me because I've struggled with ag learning. Where I wanted to stay in agriculture education, finding out I wanted to be an ag teacher myself."

Agnew said this event is an opportunity for students to experience something they might not anywhere else.

"This is a good experience for students," Agnew said. "Because many of them don't have the experience of standing in front of a group and speaking or doing this kind of county competitive event. And so, this gives them a chance to compare their skills with those from other schools. And so, they're excited. Some are a little nervous. But they always come away learning a lot and growing from the experience."

Snyder said after she became involved in FFA, she realized how much people don't realize what it has to offer.

"After joining FFA, I've seen that so many people don't realize what agriculture is. They think that's it's mainly farming, but it's so much more," Snyder said. "It inspires people. It broke me out of my shell to be able to speak publicly and it just overall helps the world."

Snyder said FFA has helped her to improve and grow.

"There are so many speaking events that FFA promotes," Snyder said. "Not just this event. It helps people become better leaders and bring out the true person they know they can be. I learned there are a lot of talented people here and if you just shake everything off it's going to be okay. Just take a deep breath. You can do anything you put your mind to."

Agnew said students studying Agriculture at Arkansas State University were also a part of the day's events.

"Many of the students at A-State, have already been involved in many of these events when they were in high school," Agnew said. "They've just never seen it from the other side. They're helping out now. And this is a service they can provide back to the schools and to the teachers of Region 8."

Agnew said he hoped everyone took away a positive experience from the event.

"We want this to be a positive experience for everybody," Agnew said. "The college students that are here, we want them to learn and appreciate what goes into this event and to feel like they've contributed to the community. We want the high school students to have a good experience as well. We want them to be willing to come back in the future and participate. We don't want anybody to have a bad experience. We want this to be a learning experience and we want the teachers that are here today to also have a good experience and be glad they came here at Arkansas State to conduct this event."

Around 160 students attended from schools in eight counties.

Students who placed in this event will move on to compete at the District level next spring.

For more information about Arkansas State University's College of Agriculture, click here.

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