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Busy year awaits Delaware National FFA officer

Courtesy of National FFA Jackson Sylvester is the National FFA secretary
NATIONAL FFA SECRETARY: Jackson Sylvester of Felton, Del., is the fifth Delaware native elected to the National FFA officer team.
Q&A: Jackson Sylvester talks about what made him want to run for National FFA.

It’s going to be a busy 2022 for Jackson Sylvester of Felton, Del. He was recently selected as secretary of the 2021-22 National FFA officer team.

And so begins a busy year of meetings, travel and visits with FFA members from around the country. Sylvester is the second national officer from Delaware in the past five years — David Townsend was president in 2016-17 — and the fifth from Delaware overall.

Sylvester is a graduate of Lake Forest High School and was the 2020-21 Delaware FFA state president. He attends the University of Delaware where he is an agriculture major.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week since he was elected a national officer at this year’s National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, but he was able to answer a few questions about his upcoming year via email:

What do you hope to get out of this year of service? Throughout this year and the opportunities it will provide, I’m looking forward to developing deep relationships with members, donors and the staff at National FFA to ensure an impactful and fulfilling year for members in every corner of our country.  

What do you think has prepared you most for your year of service? The most beneficial aspect of my preparation for national office is certainly self-reflection. Having an understanding of who I am, what I stand for and how I can utilize my story to serve and connect with members in an honest and real way.  

Why did you decide to run for national office? There are multiple reasons I set out to be a National FFA officer. I desire to spend a year connecting and loving members for who they are, exactly where they’re at, advocating for the incredible agriculture industry and those within it, and to serve as a role model to students that inspires them to strive for the highest heights of this organization no matter their background.

Have you talked to David Townsend and gotten any advice from him on being a national officer? I have spoken with David, as well as countless other past national officers, and have received advice to be present through every moment and interaction, serve intentionally, and to be yourself. The Nominating Committee selected you for exactly who you are and the impact they know you can create, so utilize yourself and your abilities to serve National FFA and its members. 

Wishing him well

Kendall Metz, president of Delaware State FFA, had dinner with Sylvester and his family — along with the rest of the Delaware FFA staff and the state officer team — the night he got elected.

“I will say that Jackson has a passion for agriculture and the development of others that is unmatched. He truly cares about the people around him and desires to make great change happen. If you meet Jackson in person, you will understand. His energetic personality lights up the room, and I have no doubt that he will serve National FFA and its members with everything he’s got,” she wrote in an email.

Bart Gill, Delaware state FFA advisor, has known Sylvester for six years.

“Jackson is someone who can make friends with everyone, and his personality makes everybody feel very comfortable around him and very welcome. He can really relate to people really easily,” Gill says.

Being on the national team, Gill says, will open unique opportunities for Sylvester as he’ll get to travel around the country, meet state and national agricultural leaders, and get a 360-degree view of the industry.

But he won’t be around much. David Townsend, he says, spent 300 days on the road when he was a national officer.

“He won’t be in Delaware a lot over the next year,” Gill laughs.

National team

Five other FFA members were selected to the national team:

President. Cole Baerlocher of Washington, an agricultural education major at Washington State University

Central region vice president. Cortney Zimmerman of Wisconsin, an agricultural communications major at South Dakota State University

Eastern region vice president. Mallory White of Kentucky, an agronomy major at Murray State University

Western region vice president. Josiah Cruikshank of Oregon, a business administration and mechanical engineering major at Oregon State University

Southern region vice president. Erik Robinson of Georgia, a criminal justice major at the University of Georgia

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