By Jessica Walker Boehm, National FFA Convention & Expo
Not only are siblings Sara and Aaron Sharp competing at the 92nd National FFA Convention & Expo, but they’re also both taking part in public speaking Leadership Development Events — a highly unusual accomplishment the duo will likely remember for years to come.
For Sara and Aaron, both members of the Amanda-Clearcreek FFA in Ohio, FFA has long been a family affair. Their father, Kyle Sharp, served as the 1991-92 Ohio FFA State Reporter, while their paternal grandfather, Don Sharp Jr., was the 1965-66 Ohio FFA State Vice President. Paul Ewing, the siblings’ maternal grandfather, was an FFA advisor at Westfall High School in Williamsport, Ohio, from 1964 to 1974, and their uncle, Scott Sharp, is one of their FFA advisors.
“Joining FFA wasn’t mandatory for us, but it was definitely encouraged,” said Sara, who is currently a sophomore at Amanda-Clearcreek High School. She placed first in Ohio in the Freshman Creed Public Speaking event in the spring of 2019.
Sara and Aaron’s mother, Tonya Forsythe, had a hand in encouraging the pair to compete in public speaking. The siblings say Forsythe, a lecturer in The Ohio State University’s School of Communication, has coached them along the way and helped them capitalize on their hard work.
While Sara will compete in Creed Speaking at this year’s National FFA Convention & Expo, an event in which she will recite the FFA Creed and answer questions related to its meaning and purpose, Aaron is competing in Extemporaneous Public Speaking.
During Aaron’s event, he will draw from a variety of agricultural topics and choose three of interest, then select the topic of his speech. Aaron will have 30 minutes to prepare a four- to six-minute speech using five sources, and after he concludes the presentation, he will answer questions related to his speech topic.
“I’ve never liked following a script, so Extemporaneous Public Speaking really appealed to me because I enjoy speaking off the cuff and the challenge of putting my knowledge and skills to the test without much time to prepare,” Aaron said.
He serves as student advisor for the Amanda-Clearcreek FFA, and he won first place in the Extemporaneous Public Speaking contest at the Eastern Regional FFA Program in September of 2019.
Although Sara and Aaron are focused on their upcoming competitions, they’re also taking time to appreciate their unique, once-in-a-lifetime situation.
“Getting to compete with my sibling at the National FFA Convention & Expo is exciting and a true privilege,” Sara said. “Aaron and I support one another, and we’re thankful to have so many people in our corner who have pushed us to work hard and hone our skills for our respective events.”