Two Orion FFA members earn State FFA degrees

Amelia Martens
State FFA degree recipients this year include Orion FFA members Cassie Catlett, left, and Alex Samuelson.

Applications, an interview, and hours of hard work went into the process of earning State FFA Degrees, but two Orion FFA members say it definitely was worth the time and effort.

Alex Samuelson and Cassie Catlett, both juniors at Orion High School, applied for their State FFA Degrees in February and will receive them in June. 

The application process was not easy, both agreed.

In order to be eligible for the degree, they had to meet a long list of requirements. They had to have their Supervised Agricultural Experience record books in order, which proved to be a lot harder than they thought it would be. 

Some of the requirements are to be an active FFA member for at least two years; receive the Chapter FFA Degree; complete at least two years of agriculture classes, including a supervised agricultural experience program; earn at least $1,500 or work at least 750 hours outside of class in a supervised agricultural experience program; and invest at least $1,000.

They also must demonstrate leadership ability through performing 10 procedures in parliamentary law, giving a 6-minute speech on a topic related to agriculture or FFA, serving as an officer, committee chairperson, or committee member, planning and completing chapter activities; and participating in at least five FFA activities outside of the chapter.

State degree candidates also must be in the upper 40 percent of their class, maintaining over a 2.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

The candidates’ chapter must certify that it held no less than 12 meetings within the past FFA year.

After meeting all of the requirements and filling out their applications, Catlett and Samuelson had to go through an interview. 

Chapter advisors from Section 3 served as judges. Applicants were asked about their managerial skills, their SAE record books, and FFA. 

“The interview was not as hard as I thought it would be,” Catlett said, adding that after the long application process, the interview was easy.

Receiving the State FFA Degree makes Catlett and Samuelson eligible for a few more FFA activities. 

Samuelson is planning to run for Section 3 president, an office which requires a State Degree. 

Both are eligible to run for a State FFA office if they choose to do so. 

The degree looks good on college applications, Catlett said.

Orion FFA Advisor Jay Solomonson stated, “I’m extremely proud of Cassie and Alex for qualifying and receiving their State FFA Degrees.  It takes dedicated FFA members to complete their record books and apply for their State FFA Degree.” 

Catlett and Samuelson participate in many FFA contests, attend all chapter meetings, and serve as officers. 

They are only the 46th and 47th Orion FFA members to receive their State Degrees since 1938.

Both students are thrilled to receive their degrees and agree that all of the time, work, and efforts they put into their FFA activities has really paid off. 

Samuelson said, “It’s a great honor to receive the award, as it reflects all of my hard work paying off.”

Catlett said, “I’m thrilled to receive my State Degree because not many FFA members have received such an honor.”

They will receive their degrees at the Illinois State FFA Convention on Thursday, June 12, in Springfield.