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Ryan Best, 2011-2012 National FFA President

Ryan Best

2011-2012 National FFA President

In late October, a student from New Mexico State University received a coveted position to lead the nation's largest student organization as president.

Ryan Best, a junior at New Mexico State University, has been elected to serve as president for the National Future Farmers of America, an agricultural education-based organization that encompasses the United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Best, along with five other individuals on the newly elected officer team, will serve and lead approximately 540,379 student members from across the nation.

From Texas Ranger to National President

Best hasn't always dreamed of becoming National President for the FFA. In fact, when he was 4, his biggest ambition was to become a Texas Ranger, much like the one Chuck Norris portrayed in a Walker: Texas Ranger. He recalls that when dressed in jeans, boots and a cowboy hat and also with a gold star hanging from his neck, he gave chase, fighting and eventually corralling bad guys, most of whom were either his sisters or a collection of rowdy stuffed animals from around the house.

Best practiced his roundhouse kicks. Once, he even offered his law enforcement services to the county sheriff and a state trooper who he met inside a local convenience store before hitting the candy aisle.

"I was completely devoted to serving the golden emblem that hung on my chest. It signified who I was and began to define my perception of right and wrong," Best remembers. "My dedication to service hasn't changed, but it has been refocused.

"The focus of my service has now shifted to a different golden emblem that has molded the person I am," he adds. "My perception of right and wrong has been reinforced through my involvement in FFA and agricultural education."

A year of traveling and more

Ryan will take leave from his academic career to become the face and spirit of the FFA. Collectively, he and his team will travel more than 100,000 miles throughout the country as they engage top leaders in business, government and education and lead a host of personal growth and leadership training seminars for FFA members.

"Just this past week, our team submitted our individual top choices of states we wish to visit during the year. I am extremely excited to meet and visit with members from different walks of life from that of my own," Ryan said.

Becoming a national officer in the FFA means instant celebrity status for the individual.

"Just in the few days following the election, I received well over 100 friend requests on my Facebook," Ryan said. "Now, I receive around 20 a day, and the total continues to climb. It's exciting and overwhelming, but also truly humbling."

Representing NMSU on a national level

Best, originally from Portales, N.M., is currently in pursuit of a major in agricultural and extension education and minor in agricultural economics and business in the College of Agriculture and Consumer Environmental Sciences at NMSU.

He has been named a Crimson honors student and was also named to the Dean's List his freshman and sophomore years.

When asked how he will represent NMSU on a national platform, Ryan responded that his experience as an ambassador for the College of ACES will benefit NMSU.

"Our university is very diverse, and the experiences I've had here thus far have taught me that while we are each different, there is something that each of us can learn and gain from one another," he said. "I will be taking that attitude with me throughout my year of service," Ryan declared.

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Image of Shannon Norris FFA Western Region Vice President

Shannon Norris

2010- 2011 National FFA Western Region Vice President

"120,000 Miles, 3 Countries, and the Belief of Service"

By Shannon Norris

I grew up in the small town of Cliff, New Mexico, and recently retired as the 2010-2011 National FFA Western Region Vice President. From October 2010-October 2011, I had the opportunity to serve as an advocate for the agricultural industry, agricultural education, and the membership of over 540,000 in the National FFA Organization. I logged nearly 120,000 miles through Japan, Canada, and 40 states during that 12 month period, which really put a new spin on appreciating the dusty, dry smell of good ole' New Mexico when I got to come home!

Serving as a National FFA Officer was an incredible and humbling experience. The National FFA Organization has a unique way of helping students develop their personal leadership abilities while preparing them for careers in the food, fiber, and natural resource industries. A portion of our duties as officers required us to meet with industry and political leaders, administrators, teachers, and students. Looking back now, there was not one day that I was not reminded of how blessed we are to be surrounded by people that are genuinely passionate about making the world a better place.

Growing up in Cliff, my parents taught me that the first step in achieving a dream is to find what you are passionate about and then work hard toward it. They would explain, "The only person who can stop you from reaching your dream is yourself." My goal this past year was to help students embrace the unlimited scope of their potential. I can only hope that the small role that I got to play in their lives sparked that desire.

Coming back to the land of the Aggies and green chile, I am even more inspired to continue helping students discover their potential by majoring in Agricultural and Extension Education. I hope to one day become an Agriculture Educator, and am proud to say that I am an NMSU Aggie. Regardless of how many miles I was able to travel or how many people I was blessed to come into contact with, it sure is good to be home!

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