The American FFA Degree is the highest honor an FFA member can receive. Only 1 percent of all FFA members receive this recognition. At the recently national convention, four former Mexico High School students were awarded the rare recognition.
Raegan Samm was among the four college sophomores honored from MHS. Fellow honorees Abbygale Jones, Chase Monte and Nikki Welch were not available for an interview.
Samm was a member of the MHS FFA since her freshman year. She is a legacy member, as her mom also was an FFA member in high school, she said.
Part of the requirements to receive the American FFA Degree is to complete a supervised agricultural experience. Samm helped out on her grandparents’ hog farm in Marshall, working with her grandfather, Kenneth Mizer, in swine production placement, while assisting her grandmother, Ramona Mizer, with general farm management.
“I would help my grandpa go and check on the hogs,” Samm said. “I also would help count, help with vaccinations and load and unload trailers.”
The farm management aspect with which she worked with her grandmother focused on bookkeeping of swine records for inventory purposes, Samm said.
Even though Samm does not intend to go into an agricultural field — she is studying nursing — her passion for agriculture has not waned. The degree was a great thing to receive to finish out my FFA career, she said.
“FFA has been a part of my family for a really long time. My mom was in FFA and she was my FFA role model. I knew I wanted to get my American Degree since my freshman year of high school,” Sam said.
Samm had to go through an application process to receive her degree, FFA sponsor Kendra Allen said. “Each of the members earned their Greenhand, Chapter, and State FFA Degrees prior to receiving this honor,” she said.
Those who apply for the American FFA Degree must, at a minimum, already have received his or her State FFA Degree, as well as be a FFA member for three years. An applicant also must complete at least three years at a secondary school and maintain records of their project. This is most commonly just a journal or a record book which can track hours and even financial investment for his or her project.
“The students completed their record books — all ag students have one — for the last time December 2017,” Allen said. “Applications were due in early May 2018, they found out in August 2018 that they would be receiving their degree.”
Samm’s family is proud of her achievement, she said.
“My mom was really excited for me. When she was in high school only one person was chosen to get the American Degree,” she said. “So, she’s excited more than one was able to get it from Mexico High School.”