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Nicole Ross
April 27, 2023

Ames High Senior Earns Iowa FFA Degree

The Iowa FFA Degree is the highest rank that can be conferred upon active members by the Iowa FFA Association. Ames High senior, Nicole Ross, is celebrating earning her own Iowa FFA Degree. 

“Every time I think about my achievements in FFA,” said Ross, “especially about my Iowa degree I feel giddy with excitement.”

Ross is the fourth member of the Ames chapter to receive this award which is notable as the chapter was just established in 2019. Ross is the current Ames FFA chapter president. 

“When I started high school I had zero interest in FFA or in the agriculture program at Ames,” said Ross. “I have a long bloodline of farms, agriculture teachers, other agriculture workers, and many FFA alumni so my mom encouraged me to just go to an FFA meeting.”

Students might have a more traditional view of FFA, which doesn’t quite detail how engaged the chapter is. The chapter has prepared and packaged holiday meals for families in need, made breakfast to celebrate teachers, and performed many fundraising efforts. Leadership opportunities are abundant from attending conferences and workshops to mentoring younger members. 

“Nicole really dove into that role head-first with a lot of great ideas on how to recruit members and set goals for our chapter moving forward,” said Emily Lair, agriculture teacher at AHS. “She is also my first student to have gone through all four years of the agriculture program.” 

The requirements to achieve the Iowa FFA Degree are stringent. On top of being an active member in FFA, students must also have completed 360 hours of school instruction in agriculture; worked at least 300 hours in excess of scheduled class time; participate in at least 25 additional, unduplicated hours of community service activities; demonstrate leadership, and several other qualities as determined by the Iowa FFA Association. Students must not only commit their energy, but also a large amount of time. Lair agrees that the Iowa FFA degree is a prestigious one that not all members will attain. She knows because she once worked toward and achieved her own degree. 

“My hope for students striving to achieve this degree is that they will understand that FFA is more than just production agriculture,” said Lair. ”They will gain many skills that can be applied to all aspects of their life. Not everyone will go into an agriculture-related career someday but the knowledge and skills they learn will stay with them forever.” 

As a senior, Ross’ future plans include attending college to study to become an agriculture educator while also supporting the Ames FFA chapter and pursuing her American Degree, the highest degree achievable in the National FFA Organization.