The North Carolina FFA Association does not award many Honorary State FFA Degrees. In fact, just 12 people are allowed to receive the degree each year. Recipients are chosen for providing outstanding service and helping to advance agriculture education and the FFA in North Carolina.
This year, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was fortunate enough to have two employees – Matt Buchanan and Jim Knight – receive the honorary degree during the 83rd annual state convention in Raleigh last month. Buchanan is manager of the WNC Ag Center in Fletcher. Knight recently retired as media marketing specialist for the department. The following are excerpts from the degree presentation:
Matt Buchanan, manager WNC Agriculture Center
“With his help and guidance, the FFA has become a part of the Mountain State Fair and Ag Center. At the Fair, he has allowed a space for two area chapters to sell tickets for the Hometown Scholarship Program at no cost, asked chapters to serve as guides for Elementary School Day, and is always looking for more ways to involve FFA and 4-H students. He has provided a location for the FFA to host a Truck and Tractor Driving CDE, which now has 15 participating schools and over 100 in attendance.”
Jim Knight, former NCDA&CS media marketing specialist
“Mr. Knight works directly with the planning and implementation of programs at the N.C. State Fair and Fairgrounds. Under his leadership, programs such as Our Land Our Legacy, Healthy Farm & Healthy Families, Grow Zone, Got to Be NC Ag Festival, Field of Dreams and the FFA Day at the State Fair have grown and flourished, providing opportunities to FFA members from across the state.”
Buchanan and Knight join the ranks of past honorees such as Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, former Agriculture Commissioner Jim Graham, Gov. Jim Hunt, Rep. Bob Etheridge and Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson. The degree ceremony was especially meaningful for Knight, who retired a week later after more than 30 years of service with the NCDA&CS.
The FFA teaches leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. North Carolina has the eighth largest FFA program in the nation, with more than 18,000 students and programs in 96 counties. There also are three collegiate chapters at N.C. State University, N.C. A&T State University and Mt. Olive College. To find out more about FFA and ways to get involed, go to www.ncffa.org.