New Wisconsin FFA president Ben Styer: "There's a lot of work ahead of us"
Ben Styer was shocked to hear his name booming across the stage at the 2021 Wisconsin FFA Convention.
"I was shocked. It was just kind of unreal, when I was up on stage and heard my name being called," Styer said. "it's becoming much more real, that we have lots to do and deadlines to meet, and there's a lot of work ahead of us."
Styer, who served on the 2020-21 state officer team and is now serving as the 2021-22 state president, said he's only just now settled in to his role and gotten his head wrapped around it.
He said he's already been training with his fellow officers and getting along swimmingly. Styer and parliamentarian Amara Livingston have already made a trip to Washington, DC for the National FFA State Officer Summit. They also met with Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson. The rest of the team video-called in from home.
Happy to get back to in-person events, Styer said he's excited for what the coming year has in store, especially since this is the year to bring FFA members from all over the state back together again. He said he thinks the best and most special interactions happen in person rather than virtually, even though virtual events offer more convenience.
"I'm really looking forward to having a lot more in-person opportunities ... because I think that's where a lot of really special conversations happen and more sincere, genuine interactions (occur)," Styer said. "But I think even from the virtual side of things we did learn a lot and there are changes that we're making moving forward, even things like a larger social media presence."
Styer said he's very proud to be part of a nearly all-female officer team, the first in Wisconsin FFA's history – he's the only guy on board. Being a part of such a historic team shows just how much both men and women contribute to FFA, Styer said, especially considering women have only been allowed to be members since 1969. The organization was originally founded in 1928.
Overall, the team gets along incredibly well, Styer said, adding that he's confident the team will accomplish great things in the year to come.
"I feel like everyone's meshing really well and we're learning a lot about each other even though we've been teammates," Styer said. "We had base camp ... Washington, DC, and now, we recently also had a golf outing for the Wisconsin FFA Foundation. So throughout all of that, we've been able to really bond, and it's been a lot of fun."
Styer is a legacy member of FFA. He said his parents and siblings were all FFA members and he counted many state officers among his role models until he was one himself. He added that he loves FFA because of his ability to serve everyone and give back to others in so many ways.
"Officers, we need to not put ourselves on a pedestal – remember that we're here for a year of service," Styer said. "It's very important for us to give back because the organization has given us so much."
Styer's favorite FFA memory so far has been opening the very first session of the 2021 state convention July 5. He chose that memory because not only was he happy to see his fellow state officers from the 2020-21 year, but he was also happy that the 2019-2020 officer team was able to be there as well since they didn't have an in-person convention to end the year.
"Seeing chapter presidents walk in with their FFA flags during that first session was so inspiring and it's felt so good to finally see an event like this happening," Styer said. "Just all of the emotions and having an event come back together and feel what Convention is again was something really special, and something I won't forget for a very long time."