More than animals

Honored Students The 89th annual Texas FFA Convention was held in Corpus Christi July 10 through 14 and hosted more than 12,000 members and guests. Among those members were 15 students from the Harlingen school district, and three of those were recognized for their achievements.

* Georgia Newell, 18, Harlingen High School – Lone Star Degree.

* Megan Adair, 17, Harlingen High School South – Lone Star Degree.

* Cara Cash, 15, Harlingen High School, fourth place in the Texas FFA Public Speaking Contest.

HARLINGEN — Her record book reads as a sort of diary the past few years.

Every purchase of feed, every trip to the vet for her market rabbits and goats, Megan Adair has written it all down in her 84-page record book.

And it’s paid off, in a big way. Megan, 17, a senior at Harlingen High School South, has been awarded the State FFA Lone Star Degree for her hours of tedious record keeping.

Not only that, she’s the first Harlingen High School South student to earn the degree since 2004.

“I feel great,” Megan said. “It’s a really big honor for me.”

So how did she make it happen after such a long dry spell? Her mother, Heather Adair, has a pretty good idea.

“She just stuck with it and was determined to reach this milestone,” said Adair, president of the booster club for the Harlingen High School South FFA program.

“She wants to be an ag teacher eventually,” her mother said. “She knew that this was something that she wanted to accomplish along that path. But it’s a lot of record keeping, and you have to show profit, and expenses, and investments in your projects. You really have to keep track of everything.”

This heightened attention to detail will empower Georgia Newell to excel in her studies. Georgia, 18, a senior at Harlingen High School, also was awarded the Lone Star Degree at the July convention.

“I feel really proud of myself because FFA is something like, ‘OK, my grandfather was in FFA when he was in high school,’” she said.

“I just feel like I’m part of something bigger now.”

The intense record keeping required some discipline.

“Starting off, it’s really hard to keep up with the record book because literally every little thing you do you need to log it,” she said.

“I do so much in the day it kind of got overwhelming.”

However, learning that skill will have some payoff in the near future, she reasoned.

“Just being able to work hard and keep at it for as long as I did, I have a really good feeling that I’m going to do really great in college,” said Georgia, who will soon begin her studies in poultry science.

“If I was able to keep up with this, then I feel like I can keep on top of my stuff there,” she said. “This has shown me exactly how to be responsible with everything. It’s taught me how to manage my money because you have to keep track of how much money you get in and how much goes out.”

Megan likewise feels she learned skills which will prepare her for her future, in a somewhat different manner.

“It’s definitely made it easier for me to talk to other people,” she said. “Just in general, through FFA, you meet a lot of people you wouldn’t ordinarily meet on a regular day.”

She pointed out that people often have the impression that FFA is simply about animals. It’s so much more, she said.

“There are speaking events which I have done in the past which have actually helped me write essays and become a better public speaker,” she said. “And with my degree, just the amount of record keeping that I did, it has helped me a lot in staying organized and keeping on task.”

What is the FFA Lone Star Degree?

This degree recognizes FFA members who have received the Chapter degree, been active FFA members for at least two years, completed at least four semesters of agricultural science courses at or above the ninth grade level, maintained a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program, demonstrated leadership skills, and have shown a commitment to the FFA through involvement at the chapter level and above.

FFA Degrees

* FFA gives students the opportunity to apply practical classroom knowledge to real world experiences through local, state and national competitions including speaking events, agribusiness, research, entrepreneurship and production.

* FFA students earn “degrees” by accomplishing various tasks related to their work in FFA.

These degrees include —

* Greenhand

* Chapter

* Lone Star