By Victoria Schlabig
Outstanding Student: Parker Kruse
FFA leader grows ambition for future.
Photo Nicole Hamel
- 18 years old
- 2020 South Lake High School graduate
- Plans to finish his AA at Santa Fe College in 2021
- Plans to major in agriculture communications or animal science at UCF
What is the Florida FFA (Future Farmers of America) association? The Florida FFA is a dynamic youth organization that allows students to grow in the fields of premier leadership, career success, and personal growth through agriculture education, and the way I got involved was mainly through my mom and my older sister. Seeing them both have success and have fun in the organization just kind of naturally made me want to join as soon as I could, so I joined FFA in the 6th grade.
How did you get elected as VP of Area 3 and what made you want to run for candidacy? Florida is broken up into six different areas, and Area 3 is composed of Lake, Sumter, Citrus, Fernando, Marion, Seminole, Volusia, and Flagler counties. I had a lot of influential people in my life who were state officers, and seeing their impact on me made me want to do the same thing for other students. There’s a screening process with different tests and interviews we have to go through, and once you go through the process, the screening committee picks who they believe are the best fits for candidates. This year due to COVID we had a virtual celebration, where we would usually have an in-person convention, and the people from each school within Area 3 voted on either me or my opponent to be their VP, and at the end of the week they announce who the state officers are.
What are your duties as VP? The first thing is to represent the students of Area 3 and of Florida FFA in general. The other is to help with conferences and what are called chapter programs. Chapter programs are where state officers go into schools and they usually teach a lesson about FFA or leadership which right now is virtual.
How will your experience with Florida FFA influence your future career? FFA has really helped me discover that I really like working with other people and I really enjoy communicating with people, so that has led me to the interest of working in journalism and public relations. I feel like some of my public speaking skills that I’ve learned through the organization are going to help me in any career I choose. I think also the teamwork skills that I’m learning, not only as a state officer but what I’ve learned through past experiences are going to help me as well.
What were your favorite classes in high school? Math and science were probably my favorite classes, I really enjoyed figuring out problems, especially in math.
How do you spend your free time? I really enjoy fishing, I have a portable hammock that I can hang between trees and I really enjoy just laying in that and reading my book, my bible, or watching Netflix. Another one is just hanging out with my friends. Being so busy all the time I don’t get a whole lot of time with them so whenever I get free time I like to hang out with them.
Favorite musicians/bands? My top three would probably be Stevie Wonder, Luke Combs, and The Beatles.
Favorite TV shows? Parks and Rec.
Where would you like to be in 10 years? I would like to see myself graduated from college and either working for the USDA or the Florida Farm Bureau, or maybe being a veterinarian. Those are my two career paths I’m kind of looking at now.
Favorite book? “Never Settle” is an inspirational memoir by Marty Smith who is a journalist for ESPN, and he talks all about his journey to being an ESPN reporter, and the people that he’s interviewed.
Words to live by: This was actually my senior quote, but one of my favorite quotes is “Don’t let the worries of tomorrow overshadow the joys of today.”
Three items you would save in a fire? Probably my laptop, my hammock, and my bible.
Who is a leader you look up to? Theodore Roosevelt. I just am really inspired by his life and his story, I think it’s so interesting. Also his mentality of “Speak softly and carry a big stick” always resonated with me.
What is something you think more people need to know or learn about? A big thing that I wish more people knew about is exactly where their food comes from and how it comes from the field to the grocery store to the table. I feel like a lot of people don’t really understand that process fully, so I’d like to see us as a country or society get a better understanding of that.
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Originally from Buffalo, NY, Victoria graduated from Canisius College in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in English and Writing. In August of 2019, she relocated to Eustis, Florida, and soon began at Akers Media Group assisting with social media projects. Later that year, she was promoted to a full-time writing position at the company and has since found her niche telling the stories of so many of Lake and Sumter County’s awesome people.
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