July 8, 2021
By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
Once again multiple chapters from Rutherford County stood out at the state FFA convention.
Stewarts Creek High School highlighted the 2021 event with a laundry list of accomplishments, including the Platinum PLOW Award, Superior Chapter Award and the prestigious National 3 Star Chapter Award.
Individually, Class of 2021 graduate Harrison Falcofsky was elected State FFA President.
Falcofsky earned six other honors including a Tennessee State Star in Agriculture, State Proficiency winner in Agriculture – Integrated Systems, State Degree recipient, Joe Lancaster Family Scholarship recipient, member of the state winning Floriculture team and runner up for both the State Agriscience Fair in Social Systems Div. V and the State Employment Skills.
“We’re a service organization so these awards are awesome,” said Gina Stewart, FFA advisor and agriculture instructor at Stewarts Creek, “We want to send kids to college and get them scholarship money, but, at the end of the day, we want them to be good citizens.”
Stewart added, “When you have good role models and good leaders and students that buy in, it makes it a lot easier to get people excited.”
Representing Eagleville School was Garren Hamby, who won state in the AnimalSystems Agriscience Research Proficiency as well as the Agriscience Fair – Social Systems and will compete at Nationals in both.
The Riverdale High chapter was runner up in Floriculture CDE and the Environmental and Natural Resources CDE. Alexis was a finalist in Swine Production Entrepreneurship, while three other members of the chapter — Mason McFerrin, Haley Love and Naomi Taylor — earned a trio of state FFA degrees.
“It was really good,” said Christopher Martin, an agriculture, food and natural resources instructor as well as the FFA advisor at Riverdale, “especially this year because it was really hard to have participation and that kind of stuff with our FFA chapter with the pandemic and everything that was going on. So, that’s pretty good considering the crazy year we’ve had.”
Martin noted that only rising seniors will have experienced a “normal school year” featuring a full year of FFA.
“They have the opportunity to make changes they would like to see because they’re going to be the only ones (with) institutional memory,” explained Martin, who noted the Riverdale chapter does have a wall filled with past accolades and trophies and a tradition of success to uphold. “It’s like making a brand-new program in some (ways).”
Likewise, Stewarts Creek was predominately freshmen.
As a matter of fact, Stewart said this year’s rising sophomores were the best freshmen group she’s taught since arriving in Fall 2017.
“It takes a lot of time to run the type of program that we run,” Stewart said, “and then when students work hard and decide to give back and decide to serve and things like that, that’s why we do what we do. Whenever we get to talk about them serving the state and serving the region and being a part of the community, that’s why we do it.”
In addition to the chapter accomplishments and those of Falcofsky, Micayla Hickman was recognized as the retiring State FFA Treasurer.
Other members of the Floriculture Team include Brooklyn Gregory, Kari Thongkham and Karlee Dunn. Dunn was the Plant Systems Div. III winner, while Thongkham and Ella Hasty were the Plant Systems Div. IV winners. Hasty, who was third in State Creed Speaking, is the new chapter president, while Hickman was the Animal Science Div. V runner up.
Hasty, Thongkham, Dunn, Kendall Beard, Tyler Moses, Harley Huber, Ciara Harris and Megan James finished third in State Conduct of Chapter Meetings.
“We’re definitely excited and we’ve got great kids (and) just excellent students,” Stewart said. “Our administration does a great job of setting high expectations for our students and encouraging them to be involved.”
Martin is thankful to see all the FFA support the county chapters receive from their respective schools, district leaders, school board members and county board members.
“All that has really helped us,” Martin concluded. “There were a lot of other programs that have not been able to be helped in other counties, so we’re really thankful for that.”
Harrison Falcofsky (center), a 2021 graduate from Stewarts Creek High School, receives the State Star in Agriscience. The award is sponsored by TN Farm Bureau.