The National FFA Organization opens career doors to high school students across the United States, including a 17-year-old Mingus Union High School senior who plans to continue her FFA work after graduation.
Taylor Kirby, vice president of Mingus Union FFA, said the national organization offers several opportunities for students who seek a career in agriculture.
Eventually, Kirby plans to work as an equine trainer for racehorses, but her first stop after high school will be as an FFA state officer.
FFA state officers travel to meet with FFA groups around the state, promoting agriculture through speeches and workshops.
Using project management techniques, state officers build relationships, develop presentations and learn to speak knowledgeably about the issues the National FFA Organization faces, Kirby said.
Kirby demonstrated her knowledge of the issues when she enjoyed lunch with National FFA Organization Treasurer Marion Fletcher on a trip to Washington, D.C., in July.
Only one student, Kirby, represented Arizona at the FFA’s 2010 Summer Leadership Conference this year. More than 2,000 students from across the United States attended.
She qualified to attend by participating in numerous FFA activities locally and at the state and national level and by writing an essay, “How I Would Be a Good Ambassador.”
She called the trip “one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
The leadership conferences and workshops were informative, but her time walking on the National Mall and visiting the nation’s monuments provided many meaningful moments, she said.
Raised on a ranch in Sycamore Canyon, Kirby said she loves working on the land and with the animals. Cleaning pens, and feeding, training and grooming animals were part of her life from an early age.
She knows how to construct an irrigation system. As proof, she points to the waterworks pumping water on a hillside facing the MUHS football field, a project she helped complete.
Kirby is currently raising a colt, Kawliga, which turns out to be more time-consuming than she expected.
“It can be a lot of work, but I love it,” she said.