Christiana's Doss to meet Education Secretary


Chelsea Doss of Christiana will be among the national leaders of the National FFA Organization, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America.who will meet with the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Friday. The group, which will include national officers representing a half-dozen states, will discuss with Secretary Duncan the needs of agriculture education. The secretary will commend the students for their preparation as future leaders and innovators in agricultural industries. More than a half-million students from all 50 states belong to FFA. Tennessee Tech Universitys Doss is the fresh face of todays FFA and becoming a pathfinder for other students nationwide who seek careers in agriculture. Doss breaks many of the old stereotypes of FFA, previously called the Future Farmers of America. The first female national officer from Tennessee didnt grow up on a farm. In fact, fewer of todays FFA members live on farms. Im not from a farm, although the traditional FFA members were from farms. Today, about 73 percent of our members are not from farms, so were taking a non-traditional approach to agriculture, Doss said. Doss was selected 2009-10 National FFA Southern Region vice president at the organizations national convention in Indianapolis last month. About 55,000 members attended the convention. The former FFA state president from Eagleville High School is the daughter of Jeff and Beth Doss of Christiana. Doss, a junior majoring in agribusiness management, was among six national officers selected at FFAs convention out of a field of 39. The FFA boasts 500,000 members nationwide. Shell spend the next year leading the organization, which represents mostly middle and high school students in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Doss will travel extensively across the nation and to Japan during her tenure as a national officer. The work begins almost immediately, after a two-week period to wrap up her classes at TTU. Shell travel back to Indianapolis for two weeks of training, then to the Tyson Foods Inc. headquarters in Arkansas for more training. After that, its off to Pasadena, Calif., to be in the Rose Bowl Parade followed by a visit to Washington, D.C. Later next year, she returns to Washington, D.C., to meet President Barack Obama before traveling to Japan to learn about agriculture there. If the pace sounds whirlwind for a girl from Christiana, thats because it is, Doss said. This is really the pinnacle of what a student can do within any of the career and technical associations, Doss said. Im thankful that I have teachers and professors who care, parents who encourage me and friends that support me. The preparation to become a national officer is grueling. Doss spent several hours a day for the last six months preparing herself for the rigorous series of interviews, presentations, speeches and papers she was required to develop while at the convention. Along the way, she traveled to Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia and elsewhere to broaden her knowledge of agriculture. She credits several people for helping her achieve her goal, including TTU alumus and TTU Foundation Board of Directors Chairperson John W. Rose. Doss is recipient of the Jerry and Betty Williams Rose Scholarship, named for John Roses parents. In addition to his generous contributions to TTU, Rose also is president of Nashville-based Boson Software LLC. He served as Middle Tennessee state FFA vice president while a student at TTU and paved the way for FFA members such as Doss. John has made everything possible that Ive done in FFA beyond high school. Through the scholarship that he provides, Ive not had to have a job through college. Ive been able to train, improve, focus on FFA and focus on school. That scholarship has made all the difference, Doss said. He has also coached me during my preparation, which has been extremely helpful. Another major contributor to her success, Doss says, is David Frazier, associate professor of agricultural education. Frazier began teaching at TTU in August after obtaining his doctorate from the University of Missouri in Columbia. Frazier has coached 16 national FFA officers. Chelseas life just changed, Frazier said. These officers are the best of the best of half a million students. Chelsea did a phenomenal job. She studied and practiced more than any other candidate that Ive worked with. Doss also credits Tennessee Farm Bureau Public Affairs Director Rhedona Rose for her success with FFA. Doss spent last summer as an intern for the Tennessee Farm Bureau. Learning from her about important ag issues was just invaluable, Doss said. The Tennessee Farm Bureau has been very generous in helping me reach this goal. I will always be thankful for that. Another important factor in Doss achievement was her living arrangement for the last three months. She, along with four other students, lives and works on the Oakley Farm in Overton County. TTU leases the farm from Millard and J.J. Oakley for $10 a year. The farms 600 head of cattle make it the second largest beef cattle herd in the state. It was really helpful to be able to tell them in the interview process that, yes, Ive been out in the field working with cattle day in and day out, Doss said. Its like having a lab in your back yard. You walk out the back door, through our yard and fence, and were in the farm. At the end of her tenure as national officer, Doss receives a $10,000 scholarship and the opportunity to earn more money for school with weekend speaking engagements. She plans to finish her undergraduate degree at TTU, then shell consider whether to pursue a masters degree. Eventually, shed like to earn a law degree, practice law in a small town and perhaps pursue politics.

© 2010 The Murfreesboro Post

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