Two Tarleton students in the running for National FFA Office
Haley Barnett– Associate Producer
Sophomores Cahlen Cheatham and Will Cornelius are running for National Future Farmers of America (FFA) office. Both students were elected by their respective states to be candidates for national officer positions.
Cheatham is a double-major in Agribusiness, with a concentration in Agricultural Economics, and Economics. Cheatham is a Texas native but moved to Maryland his freshman year of high school. He was involved in FFA in Texas and his mother pushed him to continue his involvement in the organization after their move to Maryland. He was the State Vice President for Maryland FFA.
He recalled attending Greenhand Camp, a camp for first-year FFA members, and the lasting impression it made on him.
“I was like, you know, it would be so cool to be a chapter officer,” Cheatham said. “I thought they were so cool; they do so many great things for agriculture and other students.”
From there, Cheatham found a home in FFA.
“FFA gave me a place to belong and helped me find my niche and passions,” he said.
Cornelius, an Agricultural Education major, grew up around FFA.
“My dad was my ag teacher, so I always kind of tagged along, went with him to chapter FFA meetings and hung around there until I was actually able to get into it in the sixth grade when I started showing livestock,” Cornelius remembered. “From there, it kind of really took off; I fell in love with the organization.”
Cornelius was State FFA President in Mississippi, his home state. His role as president taught him life lessons.
“Being a State FFA Officer has definitely taught me how to work with other people because we are constantly put in situations in daily life where we have to work and communicate with other people,” Cornelius said.
Cornelius found out about Tarleton while at the National FFA Convention. He met Agricultural and Consumer Sciences Associate Professor David Frazier, Ph.D., while at the convention and quickly fell in love with Tarleton.
“Me majoring in Agricultural Education, this is the best place to be because it’s no doubt the best agricultural education program in the country, so why not learn from the best?” Cornelius said.
Cheatham chose Tarleton for proximity to his family.
“I was actually born in Stephenville… I wanted to come back to Texas. I didn’t know where I wanted to go. I thought maybe TCU, maybe A&M,” Cheatham said. “I came to Tarleton because it’s close to my dad and I fell in love. I love the faculty, I love the students, I love the tradition.”
Both students expressed the impact that Frazier has had on them during their time at Tarleton.
“Frazier is a great mentor and a great person to learn about life with and just talking to him motivates me to do better,” Cornelius said.
Both students will go through an interview process from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2. If they are elected as National FFA Officers, they will take a year off of school to serve members of FFA. They will travel over 300 days in that year to meet partners and sponsors of FFA, as well as spend time with FFA chapters.
Cheatham and Cornelius are excited to have been elected to be candidates and hope to have the opportunity to make an impact on the future of FFA. They emphasized that they want to see more diversity within FFA and hope that all students feel welcome in FFA.
“The biggest thing is you are there to serve the students, that’s what is important,” Cheatham said. “I think that is one of the important things that national officers strive to do is serve their membership and also bring progressive ideas so the organization can move forward in the best light.”