Success Stories

How Georgia FFA Foundation Made A Difference

What Our Current & Alumni Leaders Are Saying

Kathleen Dykes

Athens, GA


Kathleen Dykes

Clarke Central FFA Chapter
Athens, GA

“I’m not going to let living in a neighborhood affect my passion for agriculture.”

Kathleen Dykes lives on a one acre lot in a neighborhood in Athens, but that hasn’t stopped her from being involved in agriculture.  “I walk my show pigs around the neighborhood.  My neighbors, and even my classmates, stop and ask what I’m doing.  It makes for some interesting conversations, and it’s a chance for me to tell them about FFA and agriculture.”

Kathleen is a senior at Clarke Central High School has been involved in FFA all four years.  “When I started my freshman year, I signed up for the Basic Ag class.  I was elected the Officer Chairman of my chapter, and I also started showing pigs that year.  My freshman year was my first year at Clarke Central and I thought some of my friends might look down on me for being active in FFA, but I was determined to be who I am and do what I am passionate about.”

Even though Kathleen lives in town, one of her Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) programs is Swine Production.  She says showing pigs isn’t just about the animals, but also about the community and other FFA members, friends and parents she has met through her swine SAE.  “We are like a family.”

Kathleen’s other SAE is an internship at a local produce farm.  She spent this past summer harvesting okra, corn, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, watermelons and cantaloupes.  The produce was sold at local farmers’ markets, and Kathleen’s employer allowed her to market the produce and set all the prices.  “My favorite part of the job is talking to the customers,” says Kathleen, without any hesitation.

Kathleen has competed in the Employment Skills Leadership Development Event (LDE), and the Poultry Evaluation and Farm Business Management Career Development Events (CDEs).  This past summer, she was awarded a scholarship from the Foundation to attend Washington Leadership Conference (WLC).  Kathleen and her sister, McKinley, also a Clarke Central FFA member, won Division 6 of the Agriscience Fair-Animal Systems Category.  The sisters conducted a research project on broiler chickens.  They fed half of their broilers once a day and fed the other half twice a day to see how the feeding schedules affected their hearts.  They concluded the chickens fed twice a day had larger hearts, which can affect how long they live, so once a day feeding is best for chickens’ overall health.

In addition to FFA, Kathleen is a volunteer at Sacred Roots Farm, which serves women who have been addicts and/or have been human trafficked.  After graduation, Kathleen plans to attend Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) in Tifton and major in Ag Business and Livestock Production.  She hopes to one day own her own business, possibly a show pig business.

When asked why she thinks it’s important to give to the Foundation, Kathleen says, “Giving to the Foundation provides opportunities to FFA members and provides encouragement to find something in agriculture they love to do.  FFA helped me grow out of my shell and step out of my comfort zone.  I plan to give back to FFA.”

Joan Tovar-Martinez

Americus, GA


Joan Tovar-Martinez

Sumter County FFA Chapter
Americus, GA

“After I joined FFA, I saw the bigger picture and realized I could be a farmer.”


Joan Tovar-Martinez has always wanted to be a farmer.  He grew up watching his grandfather farm, and saw how hard his grandfather worked.  Joan wants to continue that legacy, and he knows he has the passion to do so.  Joan joined the Sumter County FFA Chapter during his junior year in high school after attending a Sumter County Young Farmers meeting with his employer, Mr. John Minor.  The FFA advisor, Mr. Ben Pope, encouraged Joan to become a member of FFA.  He attended his first meeting and knew he had found his place.  His first FFA competition was the South Region Welding Contest.  He didn’t place, but he wasn’t deterred.

Joan’s Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) program is working at Minor Brothers Farms, a 25,000 acre farm that grows corn, cotton and peanuts.  Joan is involved in every aspect of the farm, from planting to harvesting.  When Joan first began working at Minor Brothers, he learned how to safely operate the tractors and implements.  He also helped with the maintenance of the irrigation units, rippers, planters and harvesters.  His duties on the farm grew as his confidence grew, and now Joan manages the corn drying facility.  He is responsible for record keeping, tracking load origins as well as beginning and ending moisture levels.  Joan also manages all of the farm’s center pivots.  Joan uses an app on his mobile device to troubleshoot any technical issues related to the pivots.  He obtained his Private Pesticide Applicator license so he can operate the sprayer and handle chemicals.  “Technology is changing everyday,” said Joan.  “We have to keep up with the new technology to farm more efficiently.”

Last October at the 95th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Joan was named the Grain Production National Proficiency Winner.  This award was based on his SAE program.  After completing a proficiency application process, Joan was named the state winner and then one of four national finalists.  Joan was interviewed by a panel of judges during the convention, and then was named the national winner.

When asked about the impact FFA has had on him, Joan says he has grown his leadership skills, made connections in his community and across the state and developed friendships that will last a lifetime.  “FFA has developed me into the person I am today,” Joan said.  “I used to be very shy.  Without FFA, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to carry on a conversation with an adult outside of my family.  I always thought I would be a farm worker or laborer, but after I joined FFA, I saw the bigger picture and realized I could be a farmer.”

Joan graduated from Sumter County High School in the spring of 2023, and is now a freshman at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) in Tifton.  He is a member of the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) cohort and is majoring in Agricultural Technology Management with a minor in Agribusiness.  His future plans are to own his own farm and to possibly work in H2A labor contracting.  He can’t wait to see his grandfathers’ and parents’ smile when he becomes the first person in his family to graduate from college.

Through the Foundation, Joan was recognized for his accomplishments with awards and funds to travel and compete at the national level.  Joan was also the recipient of a post-secondary scholarship awarded by the Foundation.  “I am grateful to donors who provide funds to help Georgia FFA members like me.  It helps those FFA members see a greater potential to achieve their dreams and find their passion in agriculture.  In 10 years, I want to be financially stable, I want my family to see how far I’ve come, and I want to help others achieve their dreams by giving back to FFA.”


Hannah Henry

Alamo, GA


Hannah Henry

Agricultural Education Teacher/FFA Advisor
Wheeler County Middle School

Alamo, GA

“You never know how a donation is going to impact a student’s life


Hannah Henry is in her fifth year of teaching agriculture.  She is a product of the Wheeler County FFA program and now has the opportunity to teach at her home school.  Hannah found “the place where I belonged” through FFA.  Bryant Oliver was her ag teacher and Hannah says, “He taught me so much about agriculture, but he taught me even more about life.  I decided when I was a freshman that I wanted to impact students’ lives the way Mr. Oliver had impacted mine.”

As a middle school ag teacher, Hannah teaches Exploratory Ag to 6th, 7th and 8th graders.  “Agriculture is the basis of everything in our lives.  It is imperative that we educate the public on the importance of agriculture.  We need to change the mindset that agriculture is cows, sows and plows.  People need to know how much agriculture impacts their daily lives.  I can do my part in that endeavor by educating our youth.”

The Wheeler County Middle School FFA Chapter is very active, competing in the Land Evaluation, Environmental and Natural Resources, Forestry, Floral Design, Wildlife, Livestock Evaluation and Poultry Evaluation Career Development Events (CDEs).  They also compete in the FFA Creed and FFA Quiz Leadership Development Events (LDEs), Tree ID at the Georgia National Fair and Forestry Field Day.  This school year, the chapter plans to add competing in the Agricultural Technology and Equipment CDE and the Prepared Public Speaking LDE.  “FFA provides countless opportunities for students to grow and learn.  FFA has become a home to many students.  We have created a family where students feel accepted.  If my students never remember anything from class, I hope they remember they have an FFA family that loves them.”

When asked why FFA support is important from a teacher’s perspective, Hannah says, “Donations and support of FFA are so important.  You never know how a donation is going to impact a student’s life.  That donation could support a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) program that could turn into a career one day.  Your donation could encourage a student to compete in an LDE that would develop their leadership skills.  Investing in FFA is investing in students’ futures.”


2023 Georgia FFA Foundation Post-Secondary Scholarship Winners

William & Marihope Toutmant Flatt Scholarship

Ava Greer

Fullington Academy

Georgia’s Local Ford Dealers Scholarship

Shanna Wilkerson

Emanual County Institute

Carter Steele

Pike County

Breanna Harris

Effingham College & Career Academy

Macy Goodman

Macy Goodman

Virgil Simmons

Pataula Charter

Kendall Martin

Kendall Martin

Katelin Wilber


Madison Race

North Georgia Christian Academy

Jane Rowell

Citizens Christian Academy

Reese Tompkins

Tift County

Growing America’s Farmers Scholarship

Jacob Rowe

Echols County

Jacob Mantooth

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe

Owen Nichols

Berrien County

Joan Tovar-Martinez