By Al Bruce
The Evening Tribune
JASPER — Include Leann Green in the examples of how students achieve outsized results from small platforms such as Jasper-Troupsburg.
Fewer than two years after she graduated from the district high school in 2012, Green became New York State Future Farmers of America (FFA) secretary, representing 83 local chapters and almost 3,700 members.
She is now the state candidate for national office in an organization with more than 580,000 members in 7,570 chapters in 50 states plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
About 540 students are enrolled at Jasper-Troupsburg, where striving to achieve seemingly impossible goals seems endemic.
Some evidence: a varsity girl’s state soccer championship plus boy’s varsity state soccer co-championship this school year. Last weekend the Wildcats earned second place in the Section V D1 boy’s varsity basketball finals.
Jasper-Troupsburg gym rafters have enough championship banners in several sports to cover the walls of a good-sized classroom. The trophy case outside the gym displays sufficient hardware to populate Michael Jordan’s man cave.
“Leann was relatively shy and quiet when she began junior high school,” said Jasper-Troupsburg Superintendent Chad C. Groff. “As she progressed in participation and leadership within FFA, she blossomed into a very confident and well-spoken young lady who is a wonderful ambassador for Jasper-Troupsburg, our FFA chapter and our region.”
District FFA adviser Phil Marsh described her thus: “Leann’s passion for agriculture and the FFA have empowered her to become successful with her tremendous arsenal of skills. Her personal attributes include self-motivation, dedication, excellent decision-making skills plus the willingness and ability to work with anyone. She is an outstanding advocate for the agriculture industry and would make an excellent national FFA officer.”
Green said she and the state FFA leadership team set a new record visiting 65 school districts and FFA chapters to mentor, advise and inspire during her year in office. For example, she spoke to the Canisteo-Greenwood board of education to help teacher Peter Reynolds start an FFA chapter there. The chapter began in September with dozens of members.
Green now aspires to a bigger league, the national FFA arena. Support to reach that goal came from SUNY Cobleskill, where Green is a sophomore: dozens of friends, professors and the college president wrote inspiring notes of support and stuffed them into her distinctive blue corduroy FFA jacket after she revealed her candidacy.
Jasper-Troupsburg students packed the gym before she went to Syracuse for the day of interviews to determine the lone state candidate for national office. All wore buttons marked “GO GREEN” in heroic letters. Cheering that day shook gym banners almost two years after she graduated, according to her mother, Jean Green, who is also district chemistry teacher and athletic director.
After the all-day Syracuse interviews on subjects from agricultural issues to nurturing FFA chapters, the seven committee members told Green she is the sole state candidate for national office.
Jean Green said her daughter “is driven and determined to become one of six” national officers.
“National officer candidacy is an honor: each state selects only one student annually. But the experience is one of service as much of recognition,” according to Juleah Faye Tolosky, state FFA executive secretary. “Leann will be asked to train to be her best” at the October national FFA convention. “She’ll be asked to give up weekends and college time to meet FFA members throughout the state to improve her skills and to stay closely connected to the students she represents.
“The convention selection process is rigorous: imagine a six-day job interview testing your knowledge over three content areas and examining your ability to connect with others, to teach and to deliver speeches. Now imagine you are 20,” Tolosky said.
“Students at this level are incredible, committed and inspiring. They remind you what young people are capable of. Leann fits this caliber of student: she’s a model of work ethic, professionalism and student-centeredness,” Tolosky said.
“But the reason young people look up to Leann is because she is not focused on a position or a résumé builder.”
Tolosky asked the writer “to appreciate the big picture of a girl from a small town: her long-term success is what gives value to her FFA journey.
“It’s not about a moment of accomplishment. FFA works to prepare students, all students, for lifetimes of success,” she said.
If you believe in the powers of DNA, remember this sentence: Green’s brother Brent as a sophomore is vice president of the Jasper-Troupsburg FFA chapter. He aspires to become an astrophysicist and clearly understands the long academic road to that dream.
Maybe it’s the water at Jasper-Troupsburg.