A former Hamburg student will be recognized next week at the 93rd Future Farmers of America Convention and Expo for receiving one of the highest achievements in the FFA program.

Tyler Smith, a student at South Arkansas University and a graduate of Hamburg High School, has been notified that he is one of 30 members in the state of Arkansas who will receive this honor at the convention next week. According to the National FFA Organization website this is the highest award achievable in the program.

Sammy Cox, the Crossett FFA advisor, said that less than one percent of membership ever receive this award.

“I was extremely happy to be chosen to receive the highest degree in FFA and be in that one percent,” Smith said. “I want to show everybody that anything is possible if you work hard and believe you can do it.”

Smith, who is currently an agricultural business major, said he has always had a passion for agriculture and that is what drove him to join FFA his ninth-grade year of high school. Smith was a very active member and served as an officer during his last two years of college. He showed rabbits during show season and attended the state convention each year. Smith also attended Chapters President’s Conference and the national convention which is held in Indiana each year. The programs and activities allowed Smith to travel meeting and making contacts all over the nation with people who have an interest in agricultural.

“My favorite part about being in FFA has to be meeting people from across the state and the country that has the same passion for FFA that I do,” he said.

The organization’s website says, “as the highest degree achievable in the National FFA Organization, the American FFA Degree shows an FFA member’s dedication to his or her chapter and state FFA association. It demonstrates the effort FFA members apply toward their supervised agricultural experience and the outstanding leadership abilities and community involvement they exhibited through their FFA career.”

Members must participate in FFA at the local and state levels, obtain the State FFA Degree, complete at least 50 hours of community service, and maintain good grades, and that’s just a sampling of what’s required. 

Candidates must also have satisfactorily completed the equivalent of at least three years (540 hours) of systematic secondary school instruction in an agricultural education program, or have completed at least the equivalent of 360 hours of systematic secondary school instruction in agricultural education and one full year of enrollment in a postsecondary agricultural program, or have completed the program of agricultural education offered in the secondary school last attended. 

They must also have in operation and have maintained records to substantiate an outstanding supervised agricultural experience program, through which the member has exhibited comprehensive planning and managerial and financial expertise.

A student after entering agricultural education must have either earned at least $10,000 and productively invested $7,500 or earned and productively invested $2,000 and worked 2,250 hours in excess of scheduled class time. Any combination of hours, times a factor of 3.56, plus actual dollars earned and productively invested must be equal to or greater than the number 10,000.

The convention will be held next week with American Degree recipients being recognized on Oct. 27.

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