In first, UD sophomore elected national FFA president for 2016-17

UD sophomore David Townsend is the first national FFA president from the state.
UD sophomore David Townsend is the first national FFA president from the state.

David Townsend, a sophomore in the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, was elected president of the FFA at the 89th National FFA Convention and Expo in October.

This is the first time someone from Delaware has been elected a national FFA officer in 47 years, and Townsend is the first national president to come from the state.

FFA is an extracurricular organization bringing together those interested in agriculture and leadership in an effort to spread agricultural education throughout the country.

FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education,” said Alice Moore, one of Townsend’s collegiate FFA advisers and a past Maryland FFA state vice president who served in 1983-84.

Townsend, who is majoring in agriculture and natural resources and plant sciences at UD, is a 2014 graduate of Middletown (Delaware) High School, where he was very active in FFA. In 2015, he was Delaware FFA state treasurer, serving more than 10,000 students.

As a national officer, Townsend will travel more than 100,000 miles nationally and internationally. He will be interacting will fellow FFA members, industry leaders and business professionals through speeches and workshops to promote agricultural literacy.

He will finish out this semester at UD and then take a leave of absence for the following year in order to serve as president and travel across the country.

Bart Gill, state FFA adviser, said Townsend will develop a strong network and connections for life after college. He will develop speaking skills, time management and life skills.

Townsend will go through extensive training between December and January, and then begin traveling in March.

“David is a very unique and talented individual. I’m really excited for members across the nation to be able to get to know him throughout the next year because he is very genuine and easy to talk to,” said Gill.

Townsend applied to be national president last year but did not get the position. This was the last year he qualified to apply due to FFA age limits, and he was elected to the position.

“David was very proactive with this application. He did most of the work himself in getting all the necessary application materials in from those he knew would help him most,” Gill said. “I helped guide him when he asked for my assistance in applying the first time around when didn’t get it. He tried again this year and I am so excited for him to have been elected president.”

Although his position is not paid, all travel and living expenses are covered, and at the end of his term, Townsend will receive a scholarship from the FFA.

Each year, delegates of FFA elect a president, secretary and vice president to represent the central, southern, eastern and western regions of the country. Townsend had to be recommended by the state in order to be considered, and all candidates must have already served as officers on local or state level before.

Mark Rieger, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said, “Everyone in the college is beaming with pride on the news of David’s election as FFA president. This is the first time in decades that Delaware has had a national officer, and the only time we’ve had an FFA president from Delaware. He is going to have the experience of a lifetime as president, and I know he will be a great reflection on agriculture in the First State.”

Townsend has been working at the UDairy Creamery since April. Melinda Shaw, manager of the UDairy Creamery, said, “David is a natural leader and a genuinely kind person. I’m not surprised he was elected president, he’s so passionate about the FFA, and everything he’s involved in. His passion and positivity is contagious. We will surely miss him while he’s on his tenure as FFA president but everyone at the creamery couldn’t be more proud of David. We are honored to have him as part of the Moo Crew.”

Arba Henry, Townsend’s independent study instructor, said, “David is a very well-versed person. He will represent the state and university very well, and I am thrilled for him to embark on this journey.”

Moore, co-adviser of the UD Collegiate FFA with Henry, said, “I am very excited for David being elected as national president of FFA. It will be wonderful to follow David in his year as national FFA president as he inspires the members that to make a positive difference in the lives of others as in the mission statement of the FFA.”

Kathryn Daly, Townsend’s academic adviser, said, “David has been a great student to work with, he possesses strong leadership skills that, combined with his passion for agriculture, make him the perfect fit for this position.  He has a genuine interest in people and really exemplifies what it means to be a team player. I don’t think he’s ever met a stranger and his enthusiastic and warm personality make him the type of person that you want to work with.  I have no doubt that he will excel in this position.”

Originally published on UDaily

Article by Courtney Messina

Photo courtesy of FFA