Finding the correct path in life is never easy. Whether it’s trying to find the right college to go to, the best degree to obtain, or even the perfect job, it can be a daunting task for a lot of people looking for their path. However, for Samuel Gillis, the Future Farmers of America (FFA) organization has given him a path that he couldn’t be more thankful for.
Gillis, who graduated from Elma High School on Saturday, June 11, was elected to the 2022-23 state FFA officer team as president at the 92nd Washington FFA State Convention. It is the first time in the history of the Washington FFA Association that a student from Grays Harbor County has been elected state president. Although Gillis sees his new title as an honor, he’s devoted to making the most of his elected duty.
“It means so much more than the title. When I moved to Washington from Florida, the previous Washington state FFA officers were able to help me feel welcomed and included when I was dealing with the effects of being long-term socially isolated from the pandemic,” Gillis said. “I think every student deserves a fair chance to be included in society and representing the FFA gives me that chance to provide that inclusion for others.”
Founded in 1928, FFA has brought together students, teachers, and rural corporations to solidify support for agricultural education throughout the country. However, FFA does more than just help students become production farmers. Since 1988, the FFA also welcomes members who aspire for careers such as teachers, doctors, scientists, and business owners among other things. For Gillis, his goal is to obtain help for those aspirations.
“I have the amazing opportunity as state president to go around the state of Washington and work with our other great FFA chapters,” Gillis explained. “I’ll work with representatives to help legislate policies that helps our students and our schools across the state. I think my biggest goal for my time as president is to get more people interested in FFA.”
The Washington FFA Association states that it has nearly 10,000 members across the state making up approximately 250 chapters throughout nine different districts.
Gillis went on to explain that FFA has served a big part of his life growing up. Three members of his immediate family served time in the FFA and that learning from them, as well as his own experiences within the program provided him with an opportunity to grow as an individual.
He also says it helped him become humbler and fueled his passion for agriculture. As a result, he wants to spread that desire to others.
“I think if you have any interest with agriculture then you should give it a try and talk to an FFA advisor,” Gillis said. “It does take a lot of commitment, but the opportunities that spawn from it are worth its weight in gold. It’s just an amazing experience and I’m lucky to be a part of it.”
While Gillis has graduated from Elma High School, he has put his commitment to Washington State University on hold while he finishes his yearlong term as state president. When he finishes up his elected position, he plans on continuing his passion for agriculture at WSU.