SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Adam Loker will focus on developing one-on-one relationships with FFA members over the coming year as president of the Illinois FFA Association.
Delegates to the 93rd Annual FFA Illinois Convention elected the following members as state officers at the final session of the event: President Adam Loker, Wayne City Chapter; Vice-President Jaton Shaffer, Blue Ridge Section; Reporter Lauren Mohr, Normal Section West; Secretary Gracie Murphy, Macomb Chapter; and Treasurer Kara Freebairn, Serena Section.
Uplifting, phenomenal, fantastic and amazing were all the words Loker used to describe how he felt about his new position as Illinois FFA president.
“I am incredibly excited for this year,” said Loker.
“This goes back to my freshman year when I went to Conference 212 and met State President Joey Birrittier,” he said. “My chapter and I really had a connection to Joey and since then I wanted to do what Joey did just because of the way he touched us.”
Loker focuses on the impact on the lives of FFA members.
“I am excited about conferences and conventions where I can speak to a few hundred, if not a thousand, of people, but it is really the personal touch that I expect the most,” said the president of the FFA, who is advised by Jennifer. Ehrhart.
Loker lives on a farm where they grow corn and soybeans.
“My record book is crop production placement,” said Roger and Shayna Loker’s son. “I drive tractors for my father, help plant, harvest, clean bins and other general farm work. “
After his year at the helm of the FFA organization, Loker plans to attend Southern Illinois University to study Agribusiness Economics.
“I would love to come back to the farm, as well as pursue something else like the grain business or working as a loan officer in a bank,” Loker said. “I would like to gain experience in different fields.
“I am touched and honored that the members of the FFA have trusted me for the next year,” said Jaton Shaffer. “I can’t say that it touched me completely yet.”
Shaffer was inspired to take on an FFA officer position by Miriam Hoffman. Hoffman, from Earlville, is the national vice president for the Eastern Region of the FFA.
“She gave the opening keynote at our Chapter Banquet and explained how her interactions with others have shaped her into who she is,” he said. “It was one of my first real experiences with a state officer and it really inspired a lot of our chapter members.”
For the past year, Shaffer served as Chapter 16 president.
“The joy and enthusiasm of the people for the FFA has cemented the fact that I want to give back to the organization that has given me so much,” Shaffer said.
“My biggest goal is to get in touch with people who haven’t had the opportunity to be in an agriculture class,” said Shaffer, advised by Jacalyn Meisner. “It’s so important to bridge the agricultural education gap and pass that on to people who haven’t had the chance to get involved in an agriculture program. “
Shaffer lives on his family farm where they grow corn, soybeans, seed soybeans and seed corn.
“I have also worked at a farm supply store in my hometown for three years now,” said Dyke and Kendra Shaffer’s son. “It was a great opportunity to see the retail side of farming.
The FFA member plans to attend the University of Illinois after completing his year as a state officer.
“I will study agriculture and economics, focusing on markets and management,” he said.
As an FFA journalist, Lauren Mohr looks forward to working with the greenhand members.
“When I was a Green Hand, it was the state agents who sparked my interest in getting involved,” she said. “And I want to help develop the leadership of the older members to continue to build their confidence so they know everything they think they can do.”
Mohr breeds sheep for his FFA project.
“I added Shorthorn and Simmental cattle to my diverse ranch in my first year and am exhibiting dairy heifers to my grandparents,” said Brian and Jill Mohr’s daughter.
“Showing cattle is my thing and I go to about 12 shows a year,” Mohr said. “It was fun to go out and take them for a ride.”
Advised by Parker Bane and John Mackinson, Mohr also enjoys judging cattle.
“Our team won the state FFA cattle assessment competition, so we will be entering the national competition this fall,” she said.
Next year, Mohr will go to Illinois Central College where she will also be a member of the school’s cattle judging team. His plans include completing his studies at a four-year university with a double major in animal science and agriculture.
“For my career, I want to be a livestock geneticist,” she said.
“I am blessed to have this opportunity and excited for this year,” said Gracie Murphy of becoming the secretary of the FFA.
Murphy lives in town and his grandparents own a farm.
“Coming from a non-traditional background was a bit difficult for me,” said the daughter of Robert Lawrence and Wendy Murphy. “But being around so many people who have the same passion for farming has been amazing.”
Advised by Wyatt McGrew and Kaity Spangler, Murphy has three FFA projects.
“I have a food service project for my job at Dairy Queen, I have a small animal production where I have a pet breeding business and I have an agricultural education project,” she declared. “For agricultural education, I visited classrooms to give lessons and followed my agricultural advisers. “
Murphy’s college plans are to attend SIU and earn a degree in agricultural education to prepare for a career as an agricultural teacher.
“Coming into this organization, I had no idea how much I would love FFA,” Murphy said.
“Wyatt McGrew really left a mark on me and inspired me to run for state office and pursue a career in agricultural education,” she said. “As a freshman I didn’t think this organization was for me, so I want to inspire students who think FFA isn’t for them to branch out and step out of their comfort zone.”
“I am so excited to work with the Four Officers and look forward to growing with them and seeing the leaders they will become,” said Kara Freebairn. “I am speechless and it is absolutely amazing.”
Freebairn’s sister was FFA treasurer two years ago.
“His team really inspired me because I saw how they connected as a team,” said Scott and Heather Freebairn’s daughter. “The impact they may have had on the Illinois FFA was something I wanted to create for myself.”
Freebairn has been raising and exhibiting Simmental cattle since he was 8 years old and working in his family’s feedlot.
“I have always been a cattle girl,” she says.
Freebairn typically exhibits their cattle at eight or nine shows from January through September.
“We’ve been to a few shows in Iowa, but mostly we go to country fairs around our home,” she said. “Showing has taught me to win and lose and this process has certainly humbled me too. “
As an agent of the FFA, Freebairn’s goal is to bridge the gap between students in production and students in non-traditional agriculture.
“I want to bring the focus back to production agriculture because I think it’s important that we see the value that these two groups have in FFA,” said FFA treasurer who is advised by Chad Mahler.
Freebairn will go to Lake Land College next year, where she will be a member of the Cattle Judging Team, then transfer to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to earn a degree in agricultural education.
“I want to teach because in the classroom I’ve seen the impact you can have on students and I’ve always dreamed of a great adventure,” Freebairn said.
“I think Alaska will be a really cool place to teach,” she said. “The Illinois FFA has such a good program and Alaska is still struggling to build its program.”
For more information on the Illinois Association FFA, visit www.ilaged.org.