Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Six local students earn Keystone Farmer Degrees

by The Indiana Gazette on January 13, 2012 1:15 AM

HARRISBURG -- Six young people from Indiana County were among 282 who received Keystone Farmer Degrees Monday at the annual midwinter convention of the Pennsylvania FFA Association during the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

The local recipients were: Kyle Park, a 2010 graduate of Marion Center Area High School; Ned Long, Lori Mason and Marissa Weinzierl, all seniors at Penns Manor High School; Samantha Patterson, a 2011 graduate of Penns Manor High; and Kayla Wallace, a senior at United High School.

[Shown here, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary George Greig, center, congratulated Penns Manor Area High School's Keystone Farmer Degree recipients. They are, from left, Marissa Weinzierl, a senior; 2011 graduate Samantha Patterson; and seniors Lori Mason and Ned Long.]

The Keystone Degree is the highest honor a member can receive from the Pennsylvania FFA Association. To be eligible, a member must be at least a high school senior and have participated in a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) monitored by the vocational-agriculture instructor at his or her high school. The member must also have kept a record book verifying aspects of the project and have invested at least $1,000 by his or her own effort in the SAE and have completed at least 300 hours of classroom training.

Nearly 5,000 FFA members and guests, including Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley and Agriculture Secretary George Greig, attended the convention at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center.

"As a former FFA member, I know firsthand the hard work our FFA members put into developing their leadership and career potential. It is impressive and much appreciated," Greig said. "FFA members are the future of our agriculture industry, and we must continue to support them as they grow in their skills and knowledge."

The National FFA Association, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America, boasts more than 500,000 members in all 50 states, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Pennsylvania, alone, is home to nearly 8,000 members.

The FFA provides students with leadership development opportunities through classroom instruction, career development contests -- including public speaking and business management -- and real-world agricultural career placement.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, featuring nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibitors. The show continues through Saturday.

Admission is free and parking is $10.

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