By Bethany Starlin, OCJ FFA reporter
Each year, six individuals are elected to serve the now more than 850,000 FFA members across the country during the National FFA Convention. The team announcement is a highlight for many in attendance as the level of excitement and energy in the room is truly indescribable.
Albeit the road to national office ends at convention, the path to get there is far from straight. Preparations begin months before convention as candidates invest countless hours into learning more about themselves and the organization as a whole.
The interview process requires candidates to have an extreme depth of knowledge and self-understanding, which is put to the test in several different rounds. General interviews, extemporaneous speaking, workshop facilitation, advocacy demonstrations, casual activities and prepared speaking are just a few of the rounds that candidates complete during the week leading up to national convention.
The process is extremely stressful and taxing, yet so rewarding because of the friendships gained and personal growth experienced.
This year, Branson Van Fleet will represent Ohio FFA on the big stage. Van Fleet served as a 2021-2022 Ohio FFA State Vice President at Large where he had the opportunity to meet FFA members from across the state while sharing his passion for agriculture and the FFA.
Read on to learn more about this year’s candidate.
What chapter are you from?
How did you become involved in FFA?
I always knew I would end up becoming an FFA member; mainly because I practically grew up in the Shenandoah agriculture classroom, as my dad has been an Agricultural Educator at Shenandoah High School since before I even started pre-school there. Once I was in, I never looked back. I dove in headfirst, participating in multiple CDEs, attending many events and I was even elected a chapter officer at the end of my freshman year.
What are you studying?
After a few years in the organization, I realized that I never wanted to leave it so I decided to pursue a career as an Agricultural Educator and FFA Advisor at The Ohio State University.
What are some of your hobbies?
In my free time I enjoy fishing, hanging out with friends, watching or playing sports and playing video games. I would list farming as one of my hobbies, but I guess I consider that more of a lifestyle.
What is one lesson you learned during your time as an Ohio FFA state officer?
During my year of service, I learned many things. However, the lesson that stuck with me the most is that no matter what you do in life, don’t lose sight of who you are. What you do means nothing if you don’t do it as yourself.
What does it mean to be a national officer?
Being a national officer is serving, advocating and representing. You serve FFA members all over the country and help make their experience as positive as it can be. You advocate for FFA, Agricultural Education and the agricultural industry as a whole. You represent the National FFA Organization and everything that they stand for. That’s what being a national officer means to me.
Why do you want to become a national officer?
Throughout my life, in both FFA and other things, there have been many times that I came up short. In many of these instances, I was ready to give up and move on. However, each time there was someone there who helped me get back up, keep trying and reach my fullest potential. I wouldn’t be where I am today if they hadn’t been there. I want to be a national officer to be there for members all over the country and help them reach their fullest potential, just as others did for me.
Van Fleet is extremely appreciative of those who have helped him get to where he is today.
“I have this opportunity because of so many other amazing people in my life that have pushed me and helped me get to this point. For that, I am very grateful,” Van Fleet said.
Ohio FFA wishes Branson the best of luck as he interviews for a position on the National FFA Officer Team during the 95th National FFA Convention & Expo!