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WVU student wins National Future Farmers of America office

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MORGANTOWN, WV -

WVU student Wesley Davis has been elected Eastern Region Vice President for the National Future Farmers of America organization. He is the first West Virginian to hold a national office in the organization in 39 years.

He had a characteristic reaction to learning that he had been elected Eastern Region Vice President for the National Future Farmers of America organization.

The West Virginia University student was sitting in a Louisville auditorium with thousands of his peers at the FFA national convention, meeting the organization's new leadership roster.

"As soon as I heard, ‘From the State of West Virginia…' I just started running."

Running is Davis's natural state, whether in the literal sense for exercise or in the metaphorical sense suited to a multitasking high achiever. And, for the next year, he'll be racking up some serious mileage.

"The FFA expects that we'll travel about 300 days out of the next year," Davis said. Some destinations include Wisconsin for training and Japan to check in with the emerging Future Farmers of Japan group that the U.S. FFA helped form.

"It gives me chills to think about it," Davis admitted. But the chills are of anticipation rather than anxiety. "I want to work with members to create opportunities and meet challenges."

Davis, of Point Pleasant, WV, is pursuing a dual major in agribusiness management and rural development and agricultural and extension education in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. He'll have to put his WVU education on hold for his year in office, but he expects the experience to be akin to "another degree tacked on to the ones I'll earn on campus."

While he doesn't come from a farming background, his Mason County home is heavily agricultural. His parents, Danny and Sonya, have been supportive of his interests since he pursued an agricultural course in high school.

The first-generation college student didn't see the opportunities in agriculture right away, but experience and mentorship persuaded him that a future in the field was for him. And experiences in FFA have helped him refine his goals and lead him toward an educational career of his own.

"I didn't know I wanted to pursue agricultural education until I was involved in FFA leadership," Davis admits. Now he wants to work to develop programs for future agricultural educators and leaders.

Gary Kelley of Ripley served as vice president, in 1974-75, in the organization.

And Davis is the first WVU student to do so in half a century. The last Mountaineer to hold national office was James W. Teets, '67, of Terra Alta, WV, who served as first vice president in 1963-64. Teets graduated a year later than he'd planned, thanks to his year of FFA service, but he said the opportunity was "absolutely worth it."

"I had a lot of experiences that I wouldn't have had otherwise," Teets said.

Davis also serves as an Agriculture Future of America Campus Ambassador, one of 16 students selected through a competitive application process to represent Agriculture Future of America on their respective campuses and to the organization's corporate partners. He's also a student worker with the WVU Extension Service's Small Farm Center.

Each year at the National FFA Convention and Expo, six students are elected by delegates to represent the organization as National FFA officers. Delegates elect a president, secretary and vice presidents representing the central, southern, eastern and western regions of the country.

National officers commit to a year of service to the National FFA Organization. Each travels more than 100,000 national and international miles to interact with business and industry leaders, thousands of FFA members and teachers, corporate sponsors, government and education officials, state FFA leaders, the general public and more. The team will lead personal growth and leadership training seminars for FFA members throughout the country and help set policies that will guide the future of FFA and promote agricultural literacy.

For Davis, the opportunity ties directly into his personal philosophy.

"We live for other people, and that's why we're here."