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‘Just One’ experience


Story and photos by: Allison Parker 4/25/2019

 

Senior Bedford County FFA member Lawson Lemmon, right, and Shelbyville Central High School agriculture teacher and FFA advisor Tommy Green take a look at one of Lawson’s steers, which are a key part of his Beef Entrepreneurship proficiency.
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The 2019 National FFA theme “Just One” challenges members, supporters, and alumni to reflect on how their individual experience in FFA has changed their life.

“My FFA experience has been packed full of meaningful moments that have had a life-changing impact on me,” says senior Bedford County FFA member Lawson Lemmon. “It would be near impossible to pick just one.”

Lawson hit the ground running after joining FFA his freshman year. He has spent the majority of his time in high school practicing and competing in as many activities as possible, including the Farm and Agribusiness Management Career Development Event (CDE).

“One huge highlight of my FFA career was being named the 2018 FFA State Champion in the Farm Business CDE after being the reserve champion for two years in a row,” he says.

The Farm Business CDE helps students learn business skills and apply economic principles to agricultural businesses. Students competing in this event gain a wide appreciation for farm and agribusiness practices, including business structure, succession planning, cost concepts, and risk management. This contest requires four members to collaborate through decision-making and problem-analysis skills to reach a final written or oral report.

This contest was the perfect fit for Lawson since he has a career goal to open his own business.

“Since I was little, my goal has always been to own my own business,” says Lawson. “Winning a contest that focuses on the skills I will need to do that made me incredibly proud.”

Lawson went on to compete in the national contest at the 2018 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, where his team was given a silver rating. He also rated silver as an individual.

“My participation in the Farm Business CDE has taught me more than I could have ever imagined about what it means to be a business owner, and everything that comes along with that title,” he says.

Lawson’s passion for the National FFA Organization began before he ever entered the doors of Shelbyville Central High School. His background on his family’s cattle farm and the fact that his older brother, Hunter, had already been an active FFA member for two years piqued Lawson’s interest in the club.

During his freshman year, Lawson enrolled in the Agriscience class taught by Tommy Green, where he was introduced to all the aspects of agriculture education including the mechanics, food and meat science, and, of course, farm business.

Lawson spent the next three years of his high school experience practicing, competing, and accepting leadership roles when he had the chance. Today, he serves as the chapter Secretary and has compiled an impressive résumé that includes another state title in the FFA Meats Evaluation and Technology CDE and top honors in the 4-H meat judging contest.

Another FFA accomplishment includes his Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) that started his freshman year when he brought home his first six steers.

“I have been around cows since before I could walk,” says Lawson. “But I never had any that were my own.”

After sharing the details of his venture with Green, he quickly helped Lawson develop his Beef Entrepreneurship Proficiency. With his teacher’s help over the last three years, Lawson has grown his herd to around 15 mama cows that he breeds each year and then raises the calves. His family has been involved in the cattle industry for over 50 years, and today the Lemmons raise over 600 head of cattle on more than 675 acres in Bedford County.

Lawson’s livestock project has proven to not only be profitable and successful for him but has also helped him bring home a few awards along the way. His Beef Entrepreneurship Proficiency was awarded third in his region in 2018. Earlier this year, Lawson was named the regional champion as well as the state runner-up in his proficiency.    

“I didn’t start raising cows with the intention of winning awards, but I am proud that FFA has given me a place to show off my hard work,” he says.

Lawson can usually be found on the farm, in his agriculture classroom, or many afternoons on the loading dock of Bedford Moore Farmers Co-op.

“Lawson has been a valued asset of our Co-op since he started working for us in the fall of 2018,” says Tom Evans, manager of Bedford Moore Farmers Cooperative. “His background in FFA and in agriculture has given him a great personality for customer service.”

Lawson is responsible for filling ticket orders, helping load customers’ orders, loading and unloading trucks, delivering farm orders, organizing materials in the warehouse, and even putting up cattle working systems.

 “The knowledge I have gained from FFA and agriculture classes helps me in my job every day,” says Lawson. “You can count on the fact that you will learn more than ‘Just One’ thing from FFA that will prepare you for a successful life.”

2019 State FFA Convention

The 91st Tennessee FFA Convention was held March 24-27 in the Gatlinburg Convention Center. The event’s theme was “Just One” and more than 3,000 members, advisors, alumni, and agribusiness partners were in attendance.

The event is designed each year to teach valuable leadership and technical skills and celebrate the successes of the past year. The annual event celebrated chapter achievements and gave students the opportunity to compete and earn the chance to represent Tennessee at the National FFA Convention in October in Indianapolis.

Among highlights of this year’s conference was Co-op’s presentation of a check for $10,130, the proceeds from the FFA t-shirt program developed jointly between Tennessee Farmers Cooperative and the FFA Foundation. TFC also sponsored the Star in Agribusiness award, the prepared public speaking contest, and the Diversified Agricultural and Diversified Livestock Production proficiencies.

During the convention, a new slate of state officers was selected from a field of 24 candidates. The newly elected State FFA officers for 2019-20 as pictured above are, front row, from left, Reporter Erica Brown, McEwen; President Taylor Campbell, David Crockett; and Secretary Emily Nave, Woodbury; back row, from left, Sentinel Austin Wattenburger, Stone; Middle Tennessee Vice President Nathan McClard, Macon County; West Tennessee Vice President Caroline Gurtin, Paris; East Tennessee Vice President Travis Stewart, Polk County; and Treasurer John Ryan Scarlett, Jefferson County.

 
 
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