Local FFA Member Wins Award
The National FFA Convention and Expo is an event that is highly anticipated by FFA members across the country each year. This year, the event would have been held in Indianapolis, however, as with most things, COVID-19 forced the event to be held virtually.
The convention was broadcast in many ways, including RFD TV and the National FFA website.
For those in the county who did tune in to the festivities, a familiar face may have flashed across the screen. Creed Ammons, a former Tyler FFA member and recent graduate of Tyler Consolidated High School, was nationally recognized for winning the Agricultural Processing National Proficiency Award.
Ammons currently serves as the West Virginia State FFA President. Making Tyler FFA history, he is the first member to be recognized as a National Proficiency Award winner.
Ammons filled out an application for this proficiency award, where he won at the state level and advanced to the national contest. “The proficiency awards encompass and focus on members’ success and highlight what they’ve done in their Supervised Agricultural Experiences. Agriculture Processing is one of the 45 different areas that they do have,” Ammons said.
Locally, many people recognize these Supervised Agricultural Experiences to be things such as raising and processing hogs for the annual Tyler FFA Ham and Bacon Sale, or raising market animals to show and sell at the county fair. These SAE’s are important to FFA members because the members learn valuable skills that will later be put toward future endeavors, regardless of where their future leads. Skills such as leadership, responsibility, and accountability are all attributes that can be learned through these SAE’s.
Leaning towards a more unique experience, Ammons focused his SAE’s on Ham and Bacon Hogs and marketing fresh pork product and fresh holiday turkeys.
The lengthy application process involved answering questions about personal growth and skills learned, as well as reporting financial records. “Once I was announced as a finalist, I had about a week and a half to record a video of an introduction and answering questions as a substitute for my interview, in order for them to be able to grade me as a finalist,” Ammons recalled.
Although Convention was held differently this year, Ammons feels the positive aspects outweigh the opportunities he may have missed by not being recognized in person. “I think it was different because I wasn’t able to go and stand on the national stage and meet the other candidates, as well as interview in person that week… I think National Convention reached more people this year since it was all virtual and more people had the ability to participate… There was a loss of some experiences, but gains others.”
Creed currently attends WVU and is majoring in Agricultural Extension and Education. He was surrounded with fellow members of the State FFA Officer team, Zane Cogar, Kaley Sponaugle, and Emily Yates, when he learned of his national success.
“It’s really unique for a student from West Virginia to win,” said Leon Ammons, Creed’s high school FFA advisor, agricultural education teacher, and father. He noted Creed is only the 15th in the state to claim this award.
“It all started freshman year when I started the Ham and Bacon curing SAE, following county tradition,” said Creed. He didn’t stop there. His Ham and Bacon SAE developed into marketing fresh pork. Over the course of four years, Ammons sold one ton of fresh pork to the local community.
“Sophomore year I wanted to venture away… That June we purchased Thanksgiving turkeys,” he said. His business continues to grow. He reported he started out with eleven turkey increasing to thirty-two the following year. This year, Creed reports he has about 65 to 70 turkeys, with his brother also getting involved in the business.
“Turkey’s were kind of a different SAE and I thought it would be a niche market in our local area. I could offer a product that not many people had ever been offered here,” Creed said, noting that it took extra work to market the product. He utilized word-of-mouth, Facebook, and repeat customers to develop and grow a customer base in the community.
Creed still has holiday turkeys available, and he can be reached by visiting “Ammons’ Farm Fresh Turkeys” on Facebook.