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  Carly Thomas,

Home Chapter: Highland

SAE Project: 
I have been blessed to have been able to participate in several Supervised Agricultural Experiences over my seven years of membership. My first project began when I was ten years old, following in my older brother’s footsteps of raising, showing, and selling livestock at our local county fair every summer for the past eight years. This has included eight market hogs, fourteen market lambs, seven market goats, and two feeder steers from the years 2015-2021. This experience allowed me to gain a better understanding of the industry in which I have been raised, while also teaching me what it takes to be an agriculturalist. It also challenged me, forced me outside of my comfort zone, and taught me qualities of an entrepreneur.

My second SAE project is working on my family's farm. I have worked on Tomahawk Ranch, my family's farm of which I am the seventh generation, for as long as I can remember. What started as opening gates and holding bolts, has turned into much more. My responsibilities change throughout the year and depend upon the season. I am extremely proud and thankful for my agricultural legacy and my future plans include coming back to the farm one day.

My third SAE project is working at the Highland County, VA, Blog. I have worked as a contributing writer since March, 2021, and have taken on more responsibilities in the management of the blog recently. This has included editing and posting blogs, management of the blog's social media, and organizing other writer's deadlines. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time thus far working for the blog, as it has taught me how to effectively communicate my community's story in an enjoyable and easy to read format. Through this experience I have learned how to advocate for the industry and community I love through written communication, social media, and personal interactions.

Favorite CDE or LDE:
I have competed in many different types of CDEs and LDEs throughout my time in FFA. These have included Small Animals, Hippology, Horse Judging. However, my two favorite have to include the Cattle Working CDE and the Prepared Public Speaking LDE. Both of these activities have been challenging for me, but I have grown and learned so much through my participation in these activities.

Favorite FFA Memory: 
My favorite FFA memory is recalling my very first State Convention. When I walked into Burruss Hall that hot June day, I found myself thrust into a world of students who were just like myself. I watched in awe of the state officer's confidence on stage, engaging conversations with members, and inspirational words. I knew from that moment I wanted to be one of them.

Future Plans: 
After my year of service, I plan to attend Montana State University to pursue a degree in Agricultural Communications. I plan to return home to my family's farm after graduation from MSU, working to continue to advocate for Virginia agriculture and my generational legacy.
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