By Matt de Simone
The Future Farmers of America (FFA) recently announced their national officers at the 95th National FFA Convention held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. last month. The newly selected 2022-2023 National President is a Botetourt native.
The new FFA National President is Andrew Seibel, a Lord Botetourt graduate and current sophomore at Virginia Tech.
The primary responsibility of a national officer is to serve the organization in local, state, national and international activities in a way that will inform, motivate and inspire FFA members, advisors, state staff, teachers, and others to achieve the mission, strategies, and core goals of the organization.
Last year, Seibel was the state candidate up for a standing position as a National Officer. He wasn’t selected. It didn’t stop him, though.
“There is a time, a place, and a reason for everything we face in life,” Seibel said in a recent statement on Facebook. “Last year, I was not selected to serve as a National FFA Officer. This result, while challenging, sparked a period of growth unlike any I have experienced in my life and helped me realize that I can create a positive influence in the world around me inside and outside of a blue corduroy jacket.
“I knew for a long time I wanted to bring my talents back to the national level, and did just that last week at the 95th National FFA Convention and Expo.”
In terms of the FFA national officer selection process, there are four regions of the country within FFA. Each region is guaranteed one vice president and then a selection committee selects a president and a secretary at-large. This year, three national officers, that included Seibel, from the eastern region were selected as national officers.
“You go through the most intense interview process that any of us will ever go through in our entire life where [the committee] collects thousands of data points and then it all comes down to a two-minute committee report,” Seibel explained in a recent interview. “A large majority of people walk home upset like I did last year. It’s an unfortunate reality, but it makes it much more exciting when [being selected as a national officer].”
Each state presents one candidate for a national officer. One week before the convention, there is a video round of interviews. Next, upon arriving at the convention, there is an in-person interview with the candidate and the nine members of the selection committee. Following that, there are nine one-on-one candidate interviews with individual committee members. Next, the candidate must make a five-minute speech about agricultural education or about FFA with only 20 minutes of preparation.
Once the candidate pool is cut in half, the second half of the selection process begins as candidates participate in stakeholder rounds and media interviews. Then candidates partake in student facilitation and a person round conclusion with all nine committee members. This year, the committee took around nine hours to deliberate over selecting this year’s officers. On the last day of the convention, the national officers are announced.
The Seibel family has a strong legacy in the FFA. Andrew’s grandfather, George H. Seibel, along with Andrew’s father Andy, and sisters Tess and Claire, represent multiple generations of the Seibel family who participated in FFA.
George was an FFA member when he was in high school. Andy followed suit when he was a high schooler. All three of Andy’s children engaged in the leadership aspects of FFA serving as state officers and additional national-level service. Tess and Andrew represent the first sister-brother national officers in the FFA’s 95-year history.
“Every parent wants their child to be successful,” said Andrew’s father, Andy, executive secretary of Virginia FFA. “I have had the unique privilege of being able to watch Andrew’s journey on the state and national levels as the Virginia FFA executive director. I am also proud to say that supporting local FFA and 4-H youth agriculture through the Botetourt County FFA Alumni chapter as a parent and member allowed me to encourage Andrew through his middle and high school journey.
“As national president, he will have the opportunity to interact with students, supporters, and alumni from across the country over the next year. One of his primary responsibilities will be to encourage members to take advantage of numerous opportunities that FFA members have access to on the local, state, and national levels and we are so very proud of him.”
Seibel looks forward to what lies ahead for him as the new National FFA President.
“In July, it’ll be 10 years that I’ve been an FFA member,” Seibel said. “To be able to end it with a year where I’m going to get to travel 120,000 miles, go to 40 states, and go out of the country and meet so many members and hopefully help them see their potential—I’m still having trouble understanding what this opportunity actually is.”
Some of Seibel’s presidential responsibilities include sitting on the National Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees to see the scale of a not for profit from a business end, and not just from the students’ end. He’ll also serve as chair at next year’s convention.
All FFA national officers work with a strategic plan to help develop the future of FFA.
“We’re still students but at the same time, it’s definitely more of a professional role too,” Seibel added. “You’re not just an FFA member anymore. You’re like a mini-executive. We’re trying to prepare our students to be able to enter the workforce and be able to be proficient, successful leaders and learners wherever they land whether it’s in agriculture or not.”
Seibel appreciates the support of his family, former national officer Brian Walsh from Virginia, and former National Vice President Shannon Norris from New Mexico through his process of working toward becoming a national officer.
He has a busy couple of months ahead. For one, there’s school. Seibel has to catch up on his studies at Virginia Tech. In December, Seibel flies back to Indianapolis for two weeks of training. Then after the holidays, he returns to Indianapolis for a few more weeks of training in January. During the last week of January, he’ll participate in “Experience Week” in Orlando, Fla., where Seibel and his fellow officers will take the prepared workshops and speeches and test them out on students in a live setting. After that week, Seibel travels to South Africa for an “international experience” with FFA.
“South Africa’s going to be cool because John Deere has a huge factory there and we’ll be working with the African Leadership Academy,” Seibel said. “That’ll be an amazing experience in itself, but also traveling the nation and seeing so many different people and faces—it’s going to be an incredible opportunity.”
For more from the FFA National Convention, visit https://www.rfdtv.com/meet-your-new-2022-23-national-ffa-officer-team.