JEFFERSON — Jefferson High School senior Riley Davis set a goal to become an statewide FFA officer four years ago, when he first joined the organization that highlights rural lifestyles.
“Addie Howell was a state officer and as she was going out of office, she told me I was going to be the next state officer from Jefferson High School,” Davis said. “I was sold, and from that day on I have worked toward this.”
Davis was elected vice president during the state FFA convention held at the Deschutes County Fairground in February. He will work with Josiah Cruikshank, president; Deidre Schrieber, secretary; Keegan Gibbs, treasurer; Olivia Palacios, reporter; and Ellie Hanson, sentinel.
He prepared for the role by serving in leadership roles within his own chapter at Jefferson High and the Capital FFA District, including being vice president and president.
Davis reflects today’s FFA — which originally stood for Future Farmers of America. He doesn’t live on a farm and raise cows or pigs, although he does show crossbred sheep in the FFA division of the Marion County Fair.
His family lives on acreage near Dever-Connor in Linn County, and although he may develop a career in agriculture, he’s leaning toward becoming an attorney.
“I just love that I’ve met so many wonderful people through FFA,” Davis said. “The environment is so accepting and positive. Everyone wants the other guy to succeed. Plus, we learn so many life skills and about diversity.”
His year-long schedule as a state FFA officer has already begun.
“We will attend all of the 12 district leadership camps and we will spend time in every district over the next year,” Davis said. “We will be based at an office on the Oregon State campus.”
Davis will put off entering college for the year due to his FFA commitments.
“It’s going to be a great year. We are going to meet so many terrific people and see so many new places, including a trip to Washington, D.C. and to Europe.”
Davis said FFA does not receive state funding and all expenses will be paid through the FFA Foundation, which is supported by alumni and businesses.
Davis said his commitment to FFA is due in great part to the fact that his father and uncles were involved in the program when they were young. He added that his adviser, Rick Martin, has been extremely supportive.
“Riley is a great young man,” Martin said. “He’s one of those kids who works super hard at everything he does. He’s been working toward this goal for four years.”
Martin said Davis has worked his way up in terms of leadership roles, including serving as chapter president for two years and participating in leadership and communications programs.
“He’s a really good person and it’s been fun watching his skills grow,” Martin said.
Public speaking has been Davis' favorite part of the program, although he enjoys showing sheep.
“Agriculture is such a major industry in our state. Ag products affect every facet of our daily lives,” Davis said. “It accounts for $5.6 billion annually at the farm gate and we grow more than 250 crops.”
Davis said he enjoys working on his uncle’s grass seed farm and especially enjoys bucking hay.
He said there are about 7,000 FFA members in Oregon and 670,000 members nationwide in more than 8,600 chapters.
“I’ve had a ton of fun and have many great memories because of FFA,” Davis said.
Oregon has 12 FFA districts, including two in the mid-valley:
• Upper Willamette District: Central Linn, Harrisburg, Lebanon, Scio, Santiam Christian, Mohawk, Philomath, Pleasant Hill, Glendale and Douglas.
• Capital: Cascade, Gervais, Jefferson, North Marion, Silverton, St. Paul, Woodburn, Stayton, Salem-Keizer and Mount Angel.
The other districts are Blue Mountain, Mount Hood, Strawberry Mountain, Lower Willamette, Central Oregon, Eastern Oregon, Northwest, Snake River, Southern Oregon and Umpqua.