LOUISVILLE — Taylor McNeel of the Vilonia Future Farmers of America Chapter in Arkansas was one of 46 participants in the National FFA Prepared Public Speaking Career Development Event. The event was held in conjunction with the 86th National FFA Convention in Louisville, Ky. The participant, led by advisor Harold McCain, was awarded a Bronze emblem.

The top four individuals received cash awards to recognize their success in the event. The cash awards and the prepared public speaking event are sponsored by Monsanto as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. As a company based in agriculture, Monsanto is proud to support the prepared public speaking CDE because it is a premier opportunity for youth to learn and fine tune communication skills that they will take beyond high school and use as they launch their careers.

"Excellence in public speaking is an important quality for everyone in a leadership position," said Elizabeth Vancil, Monsanto community and youth outreach manager. "Monsanto is proud to sponsor the Prepared Public Speaking Career Development Event in order to help shape today’s students into tomorrow’s agricultural leaders."

The prepared public speaking CDE is designed to recognize outstanding FFA members for their ability to prepare and present a factual speech on a specific agricultural issue in a well thought out and logical manner in a competitive setting. Members prepare and deliver an eight to ten minute speech from memory and respond to five minutes of questions. The event is just one way FFA members can develop their ability to communicate in a powerful, organized and professional manner.

The event, held at the Marriott Hotel in Louisville, Ky., is one of many educational activities at the National FFA Convention Expo in which FFA members practice the lessons learned in agricultural education classes.

The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 557,318 student members as part of 7,498 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs.