Five members of FFA receive prestigious American Degree

Many people receive multiple awards and honors for various reasons throughout their lifetime. However very few people receive degrees that less than one percent of members in the organization receive.

These 5 members, Becca Brian, Mark Mellinger, Matt Harnish, Donovan Weaver, and Ben Welk were awarded their American Degrees in October at the 90th National Convention of the FFA in Indiana. Each one has worked diligently over the past several years to obtain this prestigious degree.

Photo: Becca Brian, Mark Mellinger, Matt Harnish, Ben Welk, and Donovan Weaver.
There are several degrees any member can achieve during their FFA career. Degrees such as the Discovery degree, Greenhand degree, Chapter degree, and Keystone degree are all awarded to various members for achieving a certain criteria. Each degree shows honor and achievement. However, the American Degree is one of the highest and more valuable degree an FFA member can receive.

There are specific guidelines that a member must meet in order to apply for the degree. Eligibility for the degree requires the active membership for the past three years and participation in chapter and state level activities. They must have received their State degree and completed three years (540 hours) of systematic secondary education in an agricultural program or the equivalent in agricultural instruction.

The member must have graduated high school at least twelve months prior to the National Convention at which the degree is to be received. They have to show knowledge of planning, management, and finances through their records of a supervised agricultural experience. After entering agricultural education the student must have earned at least $10,000 and invested $7,500 or invest $2,000 and worked 2,250 hours. They must have an outstanding record of leadership and community involvement. The student also has to achieve a high school scholastic of a “C” or better. 50 hours of community service for 3 different organizations is also required. The American Degree is not an easy degree to attain.

Becca Brian, class of 2015, held the officer positions of chaplain, vice president, and president during her time in FFA. She completed SAE projects consisting of on-farm employment, dairy beef finishing, and lamb finishing. Her plans for the future are to continue working. Mark Mellinger, class of 2016, was sentinel and vice president during his FFA career. He restored a Farmall Super A and a 300 and had various on-farm employment projects as his SAEs. In the future he hopes to farm or work on farm equipment. Matt Harnish, class of 2016, held the student advisor, secretary, and president officer positions. His SAE projects included, raising dairy beef, market lambs, growing alfalfa hay, corn grain, winter barley, and on-farm employment. He hopes to start out as a herdsman and work towards owning his own dairy farm after he graduates from college. Donovan Weaver, class of 2016, held the officer position of treasurer. He showed sheep and had a soybean field as SAE projects. He plans are to continue his welding job at High Steel. Ben Welk, class of 2015, served in the sentinel, treasurer, and student advisor officer positions. His SAE projects included swine finishing and growing tobacco. He plans to work in the agricultural industry after graduating from Penn State with a degree in agricultural science, agronomy, and agribusiness management.

Along with receiving the highest degree in the FFA, each recipient was also given a gold American Degree Key. Congratulations to all!

--By Danae Ranck, LS News reporter

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