The National Future Farmers of America Organization recently recognized two Denison students for their achievements and accomplishments during its annual convention. The awards included one of the organization’s highest recognitions for a recently-graduated Denison High School student.
Naylan Tew, who graduated in 2017, was recognized by the FFA with its American Farmer Degree — which is given to less than 1 percent of FFA members — during this year’s conference. In addition to Tew, Mitchel Kisel was also recognized for his contributions to the John Deere and National FFA time capsule, which will be opened in 75 years.
In total, eight past and current students of Denison High made the trip to the national conference in Indianapolis for the national conference.
“It is really hard to get that recognition,” Denison ISD Agriculture Science teacher Kate Nix said regarding the degree. “They have to do a lot of work beyond just in high school.”
Nix compared the award, in terms of prestige and work involved, to the Eagle Scout recognition given by the Boy Scouts of America. In order to receive the award, the students must keep records of their FFA projects, including costs, investment and revenue, throughout high school and the year following graduation. Other requirements involve an investment of $10,000 in an agriculture project that must generate a profit.
For the project, Tew continued to raise show goats and lambs that became her focus while a member of FFA in high school. Tew said she has always had a loved for animals, and it was this interest that drew her to the organization. Tew said she decided to raise lambs and goats after her teacher in freshman year had a lamb for sale, and she decided to show it.
“There are so many opportunities in this that you don’t get with dogs or cats,” she said.
Prior to this year’s degree, Tew was recognized at the state level with a degree upon graduation last year.
“It was crazy,” Tew said. “I had to walk the stage for the state degree last year, but there were a lot more people here and a larger stage.”
In addition to Tew, a second Denison student was recognized during this year’s conference. Mitchel Kisel was among 75 students who had items that were chosen to be included in the 2018 time capsule, which is designed to showcase items and techniques in agriculture used today. The capsule is scheduled to be opened in 2093.
“I went into it thinking that many different people go in having many different cool ideas,” Kisel said. “It just really meant a lot to me to know my idea will be seen 75 years from now.”
For his entry, Kisel said he was inspired by the trips he took each year with his father to hunt pheasants. At the farm that they would visit, Kisel said he always noticed a corn feeder box that could be attached to a plow.
“For the feeder box, it has the John Deere logo on it, so I felt it was more significant,” Kisel said.
To her knowledge, this was the first time that a Denison student has been recognized by the National FFA, Nix said. Throughout the conference, the students got the opportunity to meet and talk with students from across the country along with lectures on leadership.
On the final day of the conference, Nix said the students attended a speech by President Donald Trump on the importance of agriculture. That made Trump the fifth president to speak during the annual event, she said.