Student Spotlight: Jessie Merriwether

Student Spotlight: Jessie Merriwether

Emily Hughes

“I joined FFA because my mom wanted me to. To be completely honest I didn’t expect to gain anything out of it until I joined. Once I joined I realized that FFA is an organization that is meant for everyone, with events from showing livestock to public speaking, there truly is a place for everyone and I’ve found my true self within FFA,” sophomore Jessie Merriwether said.

Sophomore, Jessie Merriwether is a member of the College Park FFA team. She was recently elected as the Blackland District President.

“This is a huge role as this means I preside over district meetings, conventions, events, etc. I also play a huge role in planning and organizing the district for competitions and ceremonies,” Jessie said.

Jessie presides over about 35 different schools from Magnolia to Madisonville. With the help of her officer team she is in charge of trainings, meetings, and more. Simply, she makes decisions at a district level.

“Throughout the year I raised 3 lambs with my brother and showed them pretty often. In the fall semester I participated in 2 leadership development events(LDE’s),” Jessie said.

Jessie competed in leadership events in Agricultural Skills, where they taught people how to use drones for agriculture and Agricultural issues, and where she spoke about the effects of disease on the poultry industry.

“In the spring semester I participated on the CP horse judging team which was fortunate to make it all the way to state! I also participated in 2 public speaking events, MCFA Discussion meet and Extemporaneous speaking. With hard work and practice I was able to bring home 1st in both!” Jessie said.

Jessie competes in multiple public speaking competitions where she discusses topics, such as “The benefits of Agriculture Advocacy” and “Why water is important to the future of agriculture”.

“I’ll be in class and I’ll say, alright, get up and say it to the class or say it to me, say this paragraph to me, memorize this paragraph and say this one. And so the preparation, there is a lot of preparation, but it’s dependent on what she’s going for at that time. For the most part, she really does a lot on her own and she’ll come to me and say, okay is this good instead of me having to build it from zero to a hundred,” AG teacher Mrs. Hailey said.

According to Jessie, there is a lot of preparation that goes into speaking events, but the most important thing for success is hard work . Jessie often spends 10 hours a week practicing public speaking, in order to be prepared for her events.

“With her, in terms of getting her ready for something, there is very little that I have to do because she is of that competitive nature where I’ve just got to like point her in the right direction and turn her loose and she’ll ask me for ideas or she’ll bounce things back and forth, we’ll bounce things back and forth off each other and go from there,” AG teacher Mr. Berrigan said.

This year Jessie started competing in the extemporaneous speaking category, in which you draw a topic, and then have a limited amount of time to create a speech.

“So for Jessie that was a good fit and we talked about that last year at this time and so for her, she has been looking forward to that all year long and also with what she does in debate, it kind of, I would say, supports,” Mr. Berrigan said.

Jessie competes on the school’s debate team where she got 1st place and a perfect score at districts for extemporaneous speaking. She also qualified for state in the poetry category. Evidently, debate has helped add to her success in FFA.

“My biggest goal is to become the Texas FFA state president. As president you travel the state and talk to hundreds of schools and preach about the importance of FFA. I’ve also set a goal to make it to nationals in extemporaneous speaking. On the livestock side of things I’ve made it a goal to win Grand Champion Lamb at our county show!” Jessie said.

District officer is a great step towards Texas FFA state president, as well as a way to earn scholarships. With her new role and exemplary skills, she can be largely successful with FFA and future roles.

“I can see that there’s a rare set of skills with this person, this young lady, and it is a joy of my life bringing excellent students together and giving them opportunities to compete at that next level,” Mr. Berrigan said.