Shaniel Smith, of Exline, received the FFA American Degree in Louisville, Ky. Saturday, Nov. 2 making her the first female Centerville FFA member to earn that degree.
“A lot of kids after they gradate high school they just kind of give up on the whole FFA thing,” Shaniel Smith said Friday during a telephone interview when asked about her place in local FFA history. “We may have had more that qualified but a lot of them may not have taken the time to fill out the application.”
The American Degree is the highest FFA award any member can earn. Getting to the American Degree requires an FFA member to first earn the Greenhand Degree, Chapter Degree and State Degree, in that order, Smith said.
Smith said after climbing the degree ladder, the FFA member must meet five requirements to earn the American Degree: Graduate from high school; work a certain amount of hours; invest a certain amount of money; perform a certain number of community service hours; and enroll in college in an agricultural field.
An FFA member who meets all of the requirements must then voluntarily submit an application for the American Degree, Smith said.
“It’s not an automatic thing,” Smith said. “There’s a certain list of qualifications. And if you meet those then you can fill out an application and submit your record book and all of your records from all of your projects. And then after you submit your application, then if they do declare that you qualify, then you will receive your American Degree.”
Smith said the American Degree is the capstone to her FFA career.
“I’ve always been very involved in FFA and I’ve always just strived to get that next thing,” Smith said about earning the American Degree. “So throughout my entire state career, I just strived to get the next thing. I was a district officer as well as a state officer. So, FFA was such a big part of my life that I wanted to get every opportunity there was available so that was just kind of my drive to get the highest degree because that is just kind of who I am. I’m just trying to get as much as I can.”