Lincoln High School senior in the running to be state FFA officer
Tessa Greenough at a glance
Hometown: Born in Lincoln, moved to Lompoc at age 10, moved back to Lincoln for high school
Student: Lincoln High School senior
Goals: study animal science at Chico State University and pursue a career as a large-mammal veterinarian
Hobbies: hiking, spending time with family
Tessa Greenough didn’t grow up on a farm.
Instead, she was a dedicated athlete, participating in track and competitive cheerleading.
That is, until spring of her freshman year, when Greenough was diagnosed with a ruptured disc and arthritis in her spine.
From that point on, sports were out.
The void was filled with a perhaps unexpected extracurricular: Future Farmers of America.
Greenough, who enrolled at Lincoln High School halfway through freshman year after moving from Lompoc, signed up for welding and agriculture classes. After she began showing pigs through the FFA program, a teacher advised her to run for a chapter office.
“I didn’t come from an ag background at all,” the 17 year old said. “My dad grew up on a ranch in Davis but that’s it.”
After pursuing officer positions at the chapter, sectional and regional positions, Greenough is now in the running for a state officer position - a potential first for Lincoln High. She was a reporter for the Lincoln High chapter in 2015-2016 and currently is historian for the Superior Region.
Though her lack of family connection to local agriculture is atypical of many FFA students, Greenough said that networking within the organization has helped her grow academically, socially and professionally.
Candidates for leadership positions within FFA must complete paper applications, interviews, speeches and, in some cases, essays. She sent in her application this past winter. Out of California’s 83,000 FFA members, Greenough said that many don’t apply for the state officer positions because of the commitment that the position requires.
This year, 200 FFA members applied for state-level positions in California, according to Greenough. At the end of February, she took a state officer exam with the remaining 150 applicants. Only 45 made it past the test, and six will ultimately be chosen by FFA delegates for the state team at the California convention next month.
The state convention is where all officers at all levels phase out of their positions and welcome in incumbent officers.
“I’m nervous but excited,” Greenough said. “This is something I’m truly passionate about. I’m nervous because it’s a big process and I’m honored because it’s a big opportunity.”
If Greenough makes the cut, she will spend a year living with the rest of the state team in an FFA house in Galt and will undergo leadership training. Each year, the state officers hold a series of conferences and workshops for lower-tier FFA programs throughout California.
They also train the next year’s officers during the state convention and visit about 100 of the state’s 324 chapters.
During chapter visits, state officers stay with families in the town of the chapter they’re visiting. Last year, the state FFA president stayed with Greenough and her family, which in part inspired her to apply for an office.
“They’re like celebrities but this makes them more personable, like these are real people,” Greenough said.
If elected, Greenough will receive a stipend but has to defer college for a year and does not plan to work during the time.
“It’s a complete year of service,” Greenough said.
Greenough wants to major in animal science and minor in agricultural business at Chico State University. She hopes to become a large-mammal veterinarian and eventually teach after gaining experience in the industry.
“My passion is overwhelming for the industry and for what it does for people,” Greenough said. “I have an outside perspective where I can appreciate it more. Everything we have comes from agriculture.”