Jon Sheehy is an honest man. So, he’ll tell you truthfully that he wasn’t excited when he joined the FFA (Future Farmers of America) in 2003. He was a sophomore, and at the time, the organization seemed to him like a young rednecks club. But, his cousin was in it, and if you signed up that year, you got to go to the national convention in Louisville, so the way Jon figured it, what did he have to lose? Never could he have imagined how much he’d gain.

“I was a small town kid—a little shy,” Jon says. “This gave me an opportunity to get more confidence and meet people with similar interests.”

Jon’s arm may have been twisted into joining, but he quickly fell in love with the FFA. He liked the way it differed from other extracurriculars he’d been involved in. This was agriculture, so he wasn’t competing against others so much as he was competing against himself. Also, Jon couldn’t recall a time when he’d crossed the court to chat with a rival basketball team after a game, but after an FFA competition, everyone gathered for dinners, dances, and other events.

Because it was fun, Jon stuck with FFA, and he learned a lot over the years. He participated in career development events (CDEs) such as livestock judging, public speaking, extemporaneous speaking, and farm business management. He learned agriculture through hands-on training as a part of FFA’s supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program. Jon served as president of the local FFA chapter, and later applied for the state FFA office. Only eight people are selected for the position each year based on some very strict criteria; in 2006, Jon was one of them.

Today, Jon works on the family cattle ranch east of Big Sandy with his wife, Jessica… who he met in FFA.

“FFA has done a lot for me,” he says.