When Neodesha, Kansas, native Ashley Chandler crossed the stage at the 93rd Annual Kansas FFA Convention to accept her role as the 2021-2022 Kansas State FFA President, it was the culmination of several years of personal hard work and a lifetime family history.
“I always knew I was going to join FFA growing up,” Chandler said. “Both of my parents (Eric and Jackie Chandler) and even my grandparents were heavily involved in FFA, so it’s kind of a family legacy.”
While Chandler was dedicated to the idea of a career in FFA from a young age, she had no idea the opportunities the organization would afford her, or the potential of her future role in its success at a state and national level.
“I had no idea the experience I would have once I joined,” Chandler said. “It was truly an enrichment and going above and beyond in FFA gave me a place where I could really strive to achieve my potential.”
Chandler’s FFA ambitions started small, with a turf grass management Supervised Agricultural Experience maintain the grass surrounding her family’s hog operation and a small goat operation alongside her sister.
“My sister and I maintain a herd of goats for Goat Production Entrepreneurship,” Chandler said. “That was probably me favorite SAE because I not only got the hands-on entrepreneurship experience I needed, but I also got to experience selling livestock to other FFA members and the impact that had.”
Those simple, skill-based application lent Chandler the responsibility and confidence she needed to branch out into other aspects of FFA, including Career Development Events like judging agronomy and eventually leadership development event — the skills from which she needed in the grueling state officer application process.
It takes 10 weeks of applications, testing and interviews to be considered for a position as a Kansas State FFA Officer, and Chandler said every step of the way was worth the opportunities she will experience in her year as president.
“Our term lasts from June 2021 to June 2022, and I am super excited to provide a dynamic in-person experience for FFA members across the state who want to enrich their involvement in FFA,” Chandler said. “I’ll get to provide opportunities to chapters and individual members to help them grow in their premier leadership and personal growth, which is what FFA is all about.”
Alongside her FFA duties and traveling the state to visit fellow FFA members, Chandler is actively a student at Kansas State University. And, of course, FFA helped greatly in her major decision-making.
“I’ve always had a passion for agronomy and I actually discovered that through the Career Development Event in FFA,” Chandler said. “I competed in it all through high school and then when I got to college, it just seemed like fate to continue down that path. I'm excited to continue judging agronomy at Kansas State as well.”
Whether Chandler chooses to pursue a career in agronomy or continue her schooling for a law degree, a portion of her excitement about and investment in FFA has always been reserved for the day she will be able to join the industry that supports FFA.
“This organization has an entire industry backing the mission of what FFA does,” Chandler said. “And to me, a really powerful piece of what we do is that we’re fueled by an industry that we love to give back to, whether through career success or through service.”