SPRINGFIELD – The all-female 2018-2019 Illinois State Officer Team was elected Thursday at the 90th annual Illinois State FFA Convention. This marks the first time in the Illinois Association FFA’s 90-year history when all major state officers are women. The officers will be installed Thursday afternoon to serve the Illinois Association FFA for the next 12 months.
And the newly elected officers include Eliza Petry, of Rochelle.
“There are hardly words to describe this, it is definitely a proud advisor moment,” Rochelle Township High School FFA advisor Donna Page said of Petry’s appointment to the state FFA team. “As a sophomore, Eliza set a goal to become more active and take advantage of the opportunities that the FFA offers and then as a junior she set a goal of becoming section president.”
Petry achieved her goal of becoming FFA section president in the spring of 2017.
“After she achieved that [section president], her next goal was to run for a state office. This is a testament to setting your goals high and working hard to achieve those goals,” Page said. “Eliza is an amazing student who will serve the more than 18,000 members of the Illinois Association FFA with a tenacity that I have rarely seen in my 13 years in education. And for her to be elected on the first all-female state officer team is just a cherry on top.”
Petry, 17, is the daughter of Erik Petry and Ellen O’Malley and a 2018 graduate of Rochelle Township High School.
“I want to continue being a leader in the FFA family,” Petry said. “I want to help and encourage members to find their place, develop their potential, and leave their mark on the FFA organization.”
By being elected to the state FFA team, each officer puts their collegiate pursuits on hold for one year as they serve the Illinois Association FFA. Officers typically travel more than 20,000 miles visiting FFA chapters around the state, conducting workshops and meetings, representing Illinois FFA in professional settings, and promoting agricultural education.
Petry plans to enroll at the University of Illinois in fall 2019 in the Consumer and Environmental Sciences (College of ACES) program.
Other state officers
Sophia Hortin of Champaign County is a 2018 graduate of Fisher High School and was elected president — only the seventh female to be elected as president in the FFA association’s history.
“Being a state officer is about building a better future for the organization and its members,” Hortin said. “It’s about building relationships, leaders for agriculture, and a culture that fulfills the FFA mission of premier leadership, personal growth, and career success. It is about helping members build their own successes and build their dreams.”
Miriam Hoffman of LaSalle County comes from Earlville. She is a 2018 graduate of Earlville High School and a member of the Earlville FFA Chapter. She was elected secretary.
Taylor Hartke of Effingham County is a member of the Teutopolis FFA Chapter and a 2017 graduate of Teutopolis High School. She was elected to the position of treasurer. She is currently enrolled at Lake Land College in Mattoon as an agriculture transfer.
Shaylee Clinton of Jefferson County is a member of the Mount Vernon FFA Chapter. She is a 2017 graduate of Mount Vernon Township High School and is enrolled at Kaskaskia College in agriculture science education. She has been elected to the position of reporter.
The five officers were elected from a group of 10 candidates selected by a committee in early spring. Since 1929, Illinois has elected a State FFA Officer Team.
“These young women are great agriculture advocates,” says Mindy Bunselmeyer, Executive Director of Illinois FFA Center and first female president in the Illinois Association FFA in 1990. “They, like all FFA members, play a significant role in leading the future of the agriculture industry.”
“Be Bold” was the theme of the three-day event which recognizes achievements of Illinois FFA members, elects the major state officer team, and celebrates agriculture. Students at the convention were greeted with activities including a career fair featuring colleges and agribusinesses, an evening dance and talent show, and an opportunity to engage in the history of Illinois’ capital city. The Convention’s 2018 service project benefitted children through “The Crayon Initiative,” which collects old, used crayons and creates new ones for distribution to art programs at children’s hospitals across the nation. The convention program featured addresses by National FFA Southern Region Vice President Ian Bennett of Georgia and from each of the retiring major state officers. More than 5,000 other FFA members, advisors, and guests attended the June 12-14 event.
About Illinois Association FFA
The Illinois Association FFA is part of the National FFA Organization, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America. More than 18,077 students are enrolled in 333 different FFA chapters in the State of Illinois. FFA is a national youth organization of 653,359 student members with a mission of making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. Visit www.illinoisffa.org for more information.
About the Illinois Foundation FFA
Illinois Foundation FFA engages individuals, industry, education, government, and foundations in securing funds to support quality agricultural education and FFA programs in Illinois, including providing awards at the State FFA Convention. To learn more and become involved, visit www.illinoisffafoundation.org.