INDIANAPOLIS (October-November, 2013/National FFA Organization) Each year, the National FFA Organization honors FFA members who show the utmost dedication to the organization through their desire to develop their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.

The American FFA Degree is bestowed upon a select group of students in recognition of their years of academic and professional excellence.

Harlee Ray, a member of the County Line FFA chapter in Branch, was awarded the American FFA Degree at the 2013 National FFA Convention & Expo Oct. 30-Nov. 2 in Louisville, KY.

To be eligible, FFA members must have earned and productively invested at least $7,500 through a supervised agricultural experience program in which they start, own or hold a professional position in an existing agricultural enterprise. Recipients must also complete 50 hours of community service and demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities and civic involvement.

Harlee is a 2012 graduate of County Line. Harlee is the daughter of JP and Christa Littlefield of Cecil. She is the first American FFA Degree recipient from County Line since her mother, Christa Bonds Littlefield, was awarded this honor in 1986. Harlee is currently a sophomore at the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, majoring in Poultry Science.

The National FFA Organization also recognizes outstanding FFA chapters from throughout the country that successfully complete an annual set of required activities that encourage members to grow as individuals, work as a team and serve others in their communities. The County Line FFA chapter was also recognized while at the convention with their 2 star National Chapter Award for their 2012-2013 Program of Activities, one of only three Arkansas FFA Association chapters to earn recognition.

While in Louisville, the chapter had many other outstanding opportunities to grow as leaders and ignite their potential as members of the largest youth organization in the world! Seven members from County Line and their advisor were eight of the more than 56,000 FFA members and guests in attendance at the 2013 National FFA Convention and Expo. While there they experienced activities throughout the five day event which included a Career Fair with more than 450 corporations, organizations, and colleges, an educational tour to Fort Knox, musical concert by Country Music Singer Dierks Bentley, Louisville Slugger factory and museum tour, and 9 general sessions which included guest speakers and inspirational messages from numerous individuals, including: Arne Duncan (U.S. Secretary of Education), Rick Pitino (University of Louisville Men’s Basketball coach), Lt. Joe Torrillo (9/11 survivor and hero), and Josh Sundquist (inspirational speaker, best-selling author, and U.S. Paralympic Ski Team member).

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 557,318 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,498 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.