GREENBRIER — The Greenbrier chapter of the FFA organization (formerly known as Future Farmers of America) was host to the annual National Officer Experience tour on their high school campus. A 6-person team of National FFA Officers tours a chosen state each year and, for the first time since the inception of FFA in 1928, Arkansas was selected to host. A keynote address was given in the Fine Arts Building to more than 400 students from cities in Arkansas, and then students broke into workshops. Greenbrier students, under the direction of teachers Rodney Wiedower, Casey Epler, and Jason Davis, were instrumental in the planning and hosting of this huge event.

The keynote speaker, Lindsey Anderson, a young woman from California who is the Western Region Vice-President, gave an enthusiastic talk about leadership that emphasized two main points: Making obstacles small and opportunities big.

"Get involved and you’ll have more fun," she said.

Along with five other officers from Florida, Georgia, Nebraska, Alabama, and Kentucky, they then broke into three core groups for workshops. The main theme was "Hunger Games" and how it is perceived in America and what teens can do about solving that problem.

Tyler Kopp of the Greenbrier delegation said, "We all know quite a few of these delegates from other cities because we get together at contests and conventions and have a good time." Lindsey Triplett from South Side Bee Branch said, "I hope we’ll get some good ideas on leadership that we can take back and be the shining light in our own school." Many students were wearing their beautiful navy jackets with patches and gold medals indicative of their accomplishments.

"The Greenbrier FFA chapter, which covers a 50-mile radius, is the Best in the state", said Wiedower. This is proven by Greenbrier winning the most awards each year at conventions and competitions. They are ranked with the top seven or eight in the country. There are now over 300 members of the Greenbrier chapter, with about 100 of them still in area schools. Greenbrier’s program has just been enriched with an animal science laboratory in which they are expecting new piglets soon. They also have a horticulture building in addition to their agriculture spaces in the high school. Ashton Martin explained how Greenbrier won first place with their wedding project at last year’s contest.

"We had to plan, budget, and implement a whole wedding party’s floral arrangements, and we won," she said.

The college-age National Officers will appear in Siloam Springs, Fayetteville, Waldron, Paris, Russellville, Mountain Home, Paragould, Jonesboro, Brinkley, Beebe, Little Rock, Magnet Cove, and Mena with their energetic program of leadership. They will also manage to meet with the state’s agriculture industry, with political leaders, and with Governor Beebe before ending their tour in Hot Springs. They are Lindsey Anderson from CA, Joenelle Futrell from Kentucky, Wiley Bailey from Alabama, Brennan Costello of Nebraska, Kalie Hall from Georgia, and Clay Sapp of Florida. All are in college and have taken this time off to tour for FFA.