(La Porte, IN) - Two students in agriculture classes sponsored by Future Farmers of America are the first from La Porte High School to serve as FFA District 1 officers.
Jackson Wainscott and Zoey Parrett Hoch said they've learned better communication and leadership skills from the experience.
Wainscott, a senior, is the FFA president at the high school and FFA District 1 Vice-President.
Parrett Hoch, a junior, is the high school FFA and District 1 Sentinel secretary. District 1 encompasses La Porte, Porter, Starke, Lake, Pulaski, Jasper, Newton, and White counties.
Jesi Davenport, an FFA instructor at the school for five years, encouraged both to run for District 1 officers. So Davenport was excited when learning both of them were chosen to serve as district officers during FFA's state convention over the summer.
"That's a pretty big deal because each school is allowed to have only two as a maximum," Davenport said.
As district officers, their responsibilities include planning, running, and welcoming guests to FFA-sponsored contests and events at schools throughout the district.
Wainscott said his involvement in FFA on a larger scale is more challenging. However, he has taken his development in communication and teamwork acquired in the FFA-sponsored classes locally to another level.
"It's a bit of a different learning curve, but it's definitely been fun so far," Wainscott said.
This year's kick-off to the FFA season was held for the first time at LaPorte High School.
Wainscott and Parrett Hoch were given more responsibilities than other district officers since it was their home school hosting the event. They'll also have significant roles in upcoming FFA events at the school, like a welding contest in December and a petting zoo in the spring.
Parrett Hoch, 16, said there's a lot more to do as a district officer than just being active locally, but, in return, she feels more like an FFA member.
"It's a lot different than just your chapter. You're involved. Involved. Involved," Hoch said.
Parrett Hoch said things she's learned most from her rise in FFA include becoming a better public speaker and being able to take charge of a situation. Initially, she was a bit reluctant to seek a district position, but now, she's glad she did.
The 17-year-old Wainscott has been showing pigs in 4-H since the third grade and taking agriculture classes since he was a freshman. He's never lived on a farm but wanted to join 4-H after watching the children of his parents' friends show livestock during the LaPorte County Fair.
"I thought it was really cool, so they let me use some of their pigs, and then I just kept going from there. I just fell in love with it," he said.
Wainscott used to show one or two pigs yearly at the fair but now trains and shows three pigs he keeps at a farm in the Stillwell area southeast of La Porte. Right now, he plans to study agriculture education at Purdue University in hopes of possibly becoming an agriculture teacher.
Parrett Hoch, 16, has been showing horses in 4-H since the third grade. She enrolled in the agriculture class as a sophomore. Hoch, who lives on a hobby farm with chickens, said she was five years old when introduced to horses by her mother, who had a desire to try riding a horse. They went to a stable and have made riding horses a hobby ever since.
The family later purchased a few horses and kept them at the stable where Parrett Hoch had gone to train and show them during the fair.
"I fell in love with riding horses, and I've been doing it ever since. I enjoy it," Hoch said.
Parrett Hoch is not sure about her plans yet after high school but envisions doing something related to what she's already experienced in 4-H and FFA.
"It's going to be something probably involved with animals most likely. I'm still working on it, but I like agriculture a lot," Hock said.