A Girard FFA member returned from this year’s Kansas State FFA Convention as the organization’s new vice president.
Bethany Schifferdecker hadn’t planned on being active in her FFA chapter. Her older sister, Sara, had been a standout in the Girard FFA chapter and earned a state officer post but Bethany wanted to distinguish herself from her big sister.
Her change of heart came after a talk with Girard FFA Adviser Alan Boultinghouse who explained the many aspects of the organization and the many directions she could take as an FFA member.
Over the next four years, the daughter of Mark and Nancy Schifferdecker participated in many career development events (CDEs) and other FFA activities.
“I tried a majority of the CDEs at least once, though I wasn’t good at all of them,” she admits.
“Participating in CDEs allowed me to gain valuable skills that have played a huge role in becoming a state officer,” she adds.
She explains these events have helped her learn to communicate more effectively and to gain knowledge about different aspects of the agricultural industry.
At a speech contest during her senior year, Bethany stepped into a leadership role, calming and prepping seven freshmen girls before they presented their speeches.
Once she finished, she sat down and said, “They’re all in the competition now. There’s nothing more I can do now.”
She recalls Boultinghouse turning to her and explaining, “This is what being a state officer is like. It’s about working with the younger members and helping them grow personally.”
That moment was when everything changed, Bethany says.
“That’s when I realized that’s what I wanted to do,” Schifferdecker says. “I wanted to run for a state office.”
As the state convention neared, an all-encompassing preparation process got underway. By budgeting her hours for the day, she was ready for the interviews ahead.
Bethany explains the candidate selection process involved days in a holding room from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. with other highly qualified FFA members all competing for one of six positions. As the days passed, she and the other candidates learned to work together as a team.
“We learned to lean on each other,” she says. “We were all going through the same stressful situation and to have that relationship built made things a lot easier.”
Bethany says she’s looking forward to her next year in office, and the opportunity to meet members from other parts of the state. She and the other state officers are excited to lead and help educate Kansas FFA members so those members can advocate for agriculture and educate others.
Her passion for agriculture does not end there. Bethany says the thought of running for national office has crossed her mind. However, she is taking time to ponder the decision and is focusing on her current obligations as a student at Kansas State University.
Her long-term goal is to attend law school and become an attorney for a large agricultural company, she adds.
For someone who wanted little to do with agriculture just four years ago, the industry has made a large impact on her life.
And now, as the Kansas FFA vice president, Bethany Schifferdecker will guide and teach the young people who are the future of agriculture — and pursue her own future in the industry she’s learned to appreciate.