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Inspiration from a National FFA winner

Inspiration from a National FFA winner

WIU Freshman Brandon Livingston didn't have an agricultural background prior to his high school after-school job working for Harts Nursery in Bushnell, Illinois.

But it was that experience along with the FFA that provided him the knowledge to win a National FFA award just last year.

"When I was in high school, I was admittedly a shy kid who stuttered when I spoke and I didn't really have confident in myself. The FFA really changed that. The proficiency interviews I won are part of the reason I'm pretty good at talking now. So it changed a kids life who didn't have any background in agriculture, and they accepted me and changed my life to be a national proficiency winner," Livingston said.

Leading up to the national contest, Livingston won several other FFA competitions.

"I advanced through the section, district, state and regional level to become one of four national finalists," Livingston said.

In order to compete in the competition, Livingston kept a record book from his nursery job.

He then presented it to judges in his chosen proficiency category.

"I have a book that every year I keep track of what I make, my experiences, the skills and tasks that I learn that year, safety practices. They (the judges) get to view that book before I go in so they have questions from that book that they saw that maybe cued their interest. So they will ask me those questions during an interview," Livingston said.

According to FFA.com, there are around 650,000 FFA members in the United States.

Meaning along with the 47 proficiency categories, Livingston was 1 of nearly 14,000 people to win this award.

"We come from a little 10-acre plant nursery and I went up against other students who were working on hundred of acres of plant nursery. It just goes to show how much pride you can have coming form a small town. You never think a small town student can do it but I did," Livingston said.

Livingston is now a freshman at Western Illinois University.

Due to his experiences, he is now pursuing a career as an agriculture teacher.

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