Passion for agriculture grows

SAM WATERS/The Daily Sentinel—Kayla Calvin, who said she grew up in a “diehard” hockey family in Minnesota, moved to Fruita when she was a freshman in high school. “I knew I loved horses and animals and got into ag that way,” Calvin said. The Fruita Monument High School graduate just completed her freshman year at Colorado State University and has been named a Future Farmers of America state officer.

Kayla Calvin didn’t grow up on a farm, but that doesn’t mean she lacks a passion for agriculture.

Calvin’s passion helped her get selected as a Future Farmers of America state officer for Colorado for the 2013-14 school year.

Calvin, a 2012 graduate of Fruita Monument High School, will serve with nine other students from around Colorado on the state FFA officer team.

Calvin will be only the third state officer from Fruita since the chapter started in 1942 and the only officer on the team this year from the Western Slope. It’s also a big deal because of how precarious ag education funding is these days.

Having grown up in a “die-hard” hockey family in Farmington, Minn., Calvin was new to agriculture when she moved to Fruita her freshman year of high school.

“I knew I loved horses and animals and got into ag that way,” Calvin said. “Really taking my first ag class ignited my passion.” 

Loving that first class so much, she continued with the agriculture education program at Fruita and joined FFA.

Through participating in the various aspects of ag education, Calvin learned a lot about the industry, she said. She raised pigs for her supervised agricultural experience and got involved in horse judging, public speaking and other career development events. She served as vice president of the Fruita chapter her senior year.

Calvin just finished her freshman year at Colorado State University, where she is pursuing a triple major in agricultural education, agriculture business and animal science. She said getting involved with a service project through CSU called Pets Forever, where she helped elderly and disabled people take care of their pets, helped her realize her passion for service.

“That’s why I decided to run for state office. I knew that as a state officer our main reason that we’re there is to serve the members of our state,” Calvin said.

Calvin joined her fellow state officers earlier this month traveling to Ankeny, Iowa, for a weeklong training. The Colorado team will join other state officer teams in their region to prepare for the upcoming year.

Any former FFA member under the age of 21 can run for state office. Students frequently attend college for a year or two before applying for office, although you can apply upon graduating from high school.

Students who serve as a state officer must take a year off from school because of the demanding schedule. During the school year they travel across the state visiting each chapter as well as attend many other state and national events while always wearing the infamous blue jackets. And that year of work is unpaid; students serve on the officer team as volunteers. But that doesn’t make the application process any less of a competition.

To become a state officer, students must go through six rounds of interviews before nine of their fellow members in the blue corduroy select them as officers. Students also have to notify their advisers from their high school chapters before applying and those advisers have to sign off on the application.

“When she decided to run we thought she had a good shot,” Jennie Hudson said.

Hudson and her husband, Ryan, teach ag education classes and are advisers for the Fruita chapter. The Fruita ag education program is the largest in the state with 367 students, Hudson said.

So representing her large chapter is an honor, Calvin said. And not only that, it may help to save a program that has been on the bubble.

“Kayla’s representation for Fruita may help save the budget for the ag education program at Fruita. There has been talk in years past about cutting it,” Hudson said.

Upon graduating from college, Calvin said she plans on pursuing a career in the dairy industry, possibly opening up her own dairy in the Grand Valley. It would be a dairy that also had an educational program, she said, so students could learn about agriculture and maybe cultivate a love for it like she did. 

“I don’t think people realize how big of an impact ag (education) has,” Calvin said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without Fruita FFA and their ag education program.”


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