Five area FFA participants who graduated with their schools’ Class of 2018 received $20,000 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarships.
Recipients include Brooke Vyvlecka, Haley Wilkins and Molly Netardus of Jourdanton FFA and Marc Casas and Charlsie Harris of McMullen County FFA.
Each of them has experience showing animals at county shows and all except Harris participated in state shows.
Casas showed market lambs. Wilkins showed market pigs, swine and lambs. Netardus showed rabbits and goats. Vyvlecka showed pigs. Harris showed lambs.
Wilkins once earned ninth in the Houston stock show.
All of them have participated in a variety of FFA activities, from public speaking to advocacy to livestock judging.
“We do a little bit of everything. We probably cover every event between the five of us,” Vyvlecka said.
“The FFA has opened us up to a lot of opportunities and it has allowed us to better ourselves for the future,” said Vyvlecka.
Harris mentioned the life skills learned.
“FFA has taught us valuable life skills like teamwork, effective communication and time management. One of the most important skills we learned was time management,” she said.
Wilkins discussed how FFA opens doors for networking.
“It’s a lot of networking. There was a class at [Texas] A&M that I wanted to get into and the Tilden FFA advisor [Jim Harris] helped me get into that class,” said Wilkins. “By knowing him and him knowing professors, it all worked together.”
Casas said that working his connections helped him find lambs to show during his senior year.
Harris and Casas expressed how FFA helped them discover what they want to do in the future. Casas had long desired an engineering career, but eventually learned about the many career paths in engineering and rigorous steps through college and into the engineering professions. He said that through FFA, he learned that instead of engineering, he wanted to work in agricultural communications.
FFA taught them how to positively represent agriculture.
“When we put on this jacket, we’re given the responsibility to show the world what agriculture is and also act better for it, show the things that we learned as an FFA member. It really does change your life,” Vyvlecka said, adding that they will always be connected to FFA.
They all said that FFA helped them balance their schedule in a special way.
“I have a job, so I worked after school. It helped if I did have to ask for days off to know how to professionally ask,” Netardus said, “and working with my teachers and advisors on when I can go to practice and when I can go to work, what days I couldn’t work.”
Vyvlecka said they learned how to communicate more effectively with adults and in a different way with which athletes would. Casas added that it is one of the ways in which FFA matures members faster than other youth.
“Now that we’re becoming adults, it’s a very key thing to have,” he said.
All five of them have earned Lone Star FFA degrees and will attend Texas A&M University.