Being named to FFA office a ‘dream come true’ for Lakeview senior

Lakeview High School senior Clay Newton won’t be just any freshman walking around campus at South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D., this fall. He also will be a state officer of an organization that has over 10,000 members.

Newton has been selected as the Minnesota FFA state treasurer for the 2016-2017 school year.

“It was literally a dream come true,” Newton said. “I had been wanting this since the eighth grade. I even told my ag teacher in ninth grade that I wanted to become a state officer.”

Newton was stunned when he heard his name called at the state FFA convention recently.

“I heard ‘Lakeview’ and my name, and I was in disbelief,” he said. “I got up on stage, and I still couldn’t believe I had been selected. Honestly, it’s been two weeks and I still can’t believe that it happened. I’m so excited that I got this opportunity and can’t wait to see where it leads me.”

Newton is in his sixth year of FFA membership and has had leadership roles the past three years. In his sophomore year he was chapter vice president, then chapter president the following year and during his senior year was Region V director.

During the convention he underwent a two-day interview process.

“You have to stand and deliver a speech and they ask you questions,” Newton said. “You get a prompt and 20 minutes to prepare a five-minute speech.”

In addition, “you have to facilitate a camp – teach a group of students about FFA,” he said. “You teach freshmen in urban settings about the possibilities of FFA, the contests and leadership opportunities.”

FFA officials evaluated Newton to see which state position he would be most suited. There were 16 individuals vying for offices.

“They look at your leadership ability, whether you can handle leading an organization with over 10,000 members,” he said.

His new duties include handling money for the state chapter.

“I will meet with the past state treasurer to get funds transferred, write checks, pay traveling expenses, stuff like that,” he said.

Being a member of FFA has helped Newton mature and figure out his life goals.

“FFA has done so much for me,” he said. “It has helped me choose my career path and brought me out of my shell. Without competing in meats judging I wouldn’t have decided to go to school for animal and meat science. It is from going to camps that I met new people and made new friends. Serving as an officer in both my chapter and Region V has improved my communication and public speaking skills. It has also allowed me to connect with members outside of my chapter which I enjoyed.”