Hard Work, Leadership Pay Off for Student, Teacher at State FFA Convention

When Emma Blough attended her first Michigan FFA Convention as a freshman, she knew she wanted to be a state officer. Small wonder, then, that when she recently was named one of 12 FFA officers for Michigan, she cried.

“It’s something I’ve been working for four years,” said Emma, now a senior at Lowell High School. “It was just a really exciting moment to know all of that work I put in had actually paid off.”

Several Lowell FFA students put in a lot of work for the recognition they received at the convention held March 5-7 at Michigan State University. The school sent 26 of its roughly 60 FFA members to the event, which drew about 2,000 students.

It was a high point in the year for Lowell’s active FFA chapter and for its adviser, Kevin Nugent, an agriscience teacher. Himself a Lowell FFA graduate, Nugent was given an Honorary State Degree bestowed each year on a select few. He said the honor reflects the achievement of chapter members, adding FFA “helped me to be who I am today.”

Emma echoed his thoughts, saying she’s gained self-confidence since starting with FFA in seventh grade. In a speech at the convention, she related how FFA helped her go outside her comfort zone.

Beginning in July, she will visit local chapters and put on leadership events as part of the state board for the 2014-15 year.

“It’s a big commitment,” she said.

Looking Ahead to “The Family Business” and an Agriculture-related Career

Emma was also one of three Lowell students to earn Proficiency Awards for their activities in agriculture. Emma’s was for her work at Heidi’s Farmstand & Bakery, a family-owned business at 11999 Cascade Road.

John Mark earned an award in diversified horticulture for his work at Geldersma Farms, and Nate Blattner was recognized for his part in his family’s Twin Bee Orchards. A dozen other students earned awards in competitions, while Emma and six others received State FFA Degrees, the association’s highest honor.

Farming is in Emma’s blood. Her family’s 3,000-acre cash crop farm was started by her grandfather, Noah Blough. It continues with her parents, Gary and Laurie, and her older brother, Noah, who is a baker at the farm stand.

Emma owns a couple beef heifers and about a dozen goats, which she feeds every night after school. She’s been showing animals at 4-H since she was 5 years old. She loves farm life.

“My favorite part about it is you’re outside, you’re with animals,” she said. “Because it’s something I’ve grown up around, it just means so much more to me. It’s really shaped how I view the world and how I view myself.”

She plans to go to MSU next fall to major in food science or agribusiness management. Eventually she would like to return to the family business. She has visions of opening a farm-to-table restaurant across from Heidi’s Farmstand.

Emma credits FFA with helping her to shoot for such ambitions.

“Through FFA, I really learned who I was and what I have to offer,” she said.

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Michigan FFA Association

Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine, Religion News Service and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio.

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