School just started FFA club for students
Hays — For Jacob Schmeidler, a week away from school in the middle of the fall semester was anything but a vacation. The Thomas More Prep-Marian High School senior was a member of a four-person team, the Kansas 4-H All-Stars, that competed at the National 4-H Livestock Judging Competition in Louisville, Ky., Nov. 12-14. The competition, held in conjunction with the North American International Livestock Exposition, was made up of more than 30 teams representing states across the country. The team earned 4th Place High Team honors, with Schmeidler capturing 3rd place individually in swine judging.
While he has been competing in livestock judging contests since he was 6 years old, this was the first time Schmeidler had competed at a national level. He earned his place on the Kansas All-Star team through a series of tryouts. After being selected, he and his teammates participated in workouts held throughout the region in Nebraska, Indiana, and several communities in Kansas. During the national competition the aclasses, were tested over their knowledge of the animals they’d judged, and they provided oral reasoning for their placement of the classes. “It was the first time in many years that a Kansas team had placed in the top five,” he said.
Schmeidler’s participation in 4-H has had a direct impact on other areas of his life, not the least of which is his role in one of TMP’s newest student organizations, a chapter of FFA, also known historically as Future Farmers of America. “We just started in 2017 and we were the first private school in the state to have an FFA chapter,” said Schmeidler, the current president of the TMP chapter.
The goal of the National FFA Organization is to make “a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.” The TMP chapter takes this a step farther and incorporates faith elements that are so vital to both the students’ Catholic education and way of life. “On the back of our t-shirts we have the large letters ‘FFA,’ but we’ve added the words ‘Faith, Family, Agriculture,” Schmeidler said. “It’s something we’ve been able to implement in our chapter that also helps us show we give glory to God because he’s given us so much.”
Schmeidler recognizes that 4-H and FFA have both provided experiences he can draw from now and in the future, and that, while separate, both organizations’ goals compliment each other. “Both FFA and 4-H have helped me build leadership and public speaking skills, so they really do go hand-in-hand,” he said. “I can take what I’ve learned from one group and put it toward the other.”
While he knows the proficiencies he’s gained from the two organizations have aided him in securing his place on the Kansas All-Star Team and in leading the TMP FFA chapter, Jacob gives credit for everything to God. “I’ve been given some wonderful opportunities, but truly the only person you can attribute those to is the Lord.”