Springfield’s Capital Convention Center radiated with energy as FFA chapter delegates from across the state of Illinois gathered and elected a new state FFA officer team this week.
Elections started with 20 candidates for five available offices, and the delegates elected the following new officers:
• Sophia Hortin, Fisher, president
• Eliza Petry, Rochelle, vice president
• Shaylee Clinton, Ina, reporter
• Miriam Hoffman, Earlville, secretary
• Taylor Hartke, Teutoplis, treasurer
“I can’t wait to be bold with you guys this year and make a difference for agriculture, for FFA and for everyone in our lives,” said a thrilled Sophia Hortin, just moments after receiving the majority vote for president.
Hortin will help Illinois FFA members realize their potential, just like Kade Hill, 2015-16 state FFA president, did for her during freshman FFA Creed speaking. “He told me, ‘You can achieve any goal you set your mind to,’ and here I am today,” she said. “I discovered early on that I have a heart for service in this organization because of what it’s done for me and what I see it do for others. I knew it was more than worth it.”
BE BOLD: New state FFA President Sophia Hortin, Fisher, Ill., encouraged FFA members to “be bold” during her presidential election speech. “I can’t wait to be bold with you guys this year.”
Moments later, Eliza Petry crossed the stage as the 2018-19 Illinois state FFA vice president. “Thank you so much Illinois FFA,” she said. “I’m so excited for this year.”
Petry wants every young FFA member to know that someday, they could be standing in her shoes. “It feels like seconds ago I was in that seat where you are as a Greenhand, feeling the same exact way,” she said, adding that she remembers watching the state officers during her first experience at state convention as an FFA talent participant. “Something in my soul was uplifted,” she said. “I wanted to be one of those people.”
Shaylee Clinton, the new state reporter, also has her sights set on helping young FFA members achieve their goals. Clinton’s sister encouraged her to join FFA, and her advisors “pushed” her into public speaking early on.
“I got over a speech impediment and a stutter and found a love for public speaking,” she said. She decided to take her FFA experience to the next level while helping at leadership camp. “That’s the moment I realized I wanted to keep doing this and keep helping kids and changing lives.”
Secretary Miriam Hoffman thanked her family — including her mom, Winifred Hoffman, and her brothers — in advance for milking her cows for the next year. The state officer team will put their collegiate careers on hold for a year as they travel more than 20,000 miles visiting FFA chapters around the state, conducting workshops and representing Illinois FFA. Hoffman says her late father, Kenneth, inspired her to run for a state office. “He was a state Star Farmer when he was in FFA, and he ran for state officer, but he didn’t win,” she said. “I think it’s so cool that I’ve achieved that dream now.”
A BREAK FROM THE 4-PACK: Taylor Hartke, Teutoplis, Ill., says she’s been a team member for her entire life as the youngest Hartke quadruplet. She plans to apply that same team-player attitude toward her next year as a state officer. “When we work together, we will accomplish so much more.”
Rounding out the five-woman officer team, Taylor Hartke, state treasurer, can’t wait to take her “positive attitude” to FFA chapters near and far. “I look forward to getting to know each and every one of you,” Hartke said.
This is the first time in the Illinois FFA’s 90-year history that an all-female team was elected.
Hortin, the seventh female state president, could barely contain her excitement for the future. “This is so awesome; I can’t wait for the year to come.”