Like most things affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, applying for a statewide position with the FFA looked a lot different for Austin Funk this year than it has in years past.
Instead of attending a four-day conference at Virginia Tech and doing one-on-one, in-person interviews with judges, taking part in group activities and socializing with other candidates, this year Funk did all of those things virtually over Zoom.
But after it was all over, Funk was able to watch the selection announcement with his friends and family at Broadway High School and was able to hear them cheer for him when it was announced he would be one of four statewide FFA vice presidents.
“Everyone just erupted,” Funk said. “I honestly don’t know who got elected after me. I couldn’t hear.”
Becoming a state officer in FFA has been a goal of Funk’s since he attended his first leadership conference in Washington, D.C., in seventh grade. The outgoing president at the time talked about advancement of agriculture education in Virginia, and it was at that time that Funk realized that was the career path for him, specifically when it came to the poultry industry.
FFA has been a chance for Funk to meet and learn from people from all over the country and to cultivate his passion for sharing the importance of agriculture education, especially to those who have not been exposed to it through their personal lives.
Although he recently graduated from Broadway High School, he will spend the next year as vice president traveling to different schools across the country giving speeches and leading workshops. A lot of his additional responsibilities will be online instead of in-person, but that doesn’t upset Funk. He’s happy just to have the opportunity.
“It’s a unique opportunity to be a part of this process,” Funk said. “I hope it will help me grow my skill set for my future career.”