Q&A: Outgoing Kansas FFA officers share their experience with the organization and K-State

Scuyler Zenger (left) and Michael Dowd, sophomores in the College of Agriculture, pose for a picture with youngsters in their FFA official dress. Zenger and Dowd served as the 2018-19 Kansas FFA secretary and vice president, respectively. (Courtesy photo by Michael Dowd)

On May 29-31, almost 2,000 high school FFA members, agriculture educators and guests visited the Kansas State campus for the annual Kansas FFA Convention. The National FFA Organization is a national youth group that convenes yearly for a national convention, and each state hosts its own convention to recognize students’ achievements.

One achievement is the election of new state FFA officers and the subsequent retirement of the previous year’s officers. Since K-State is the university seat for Kansas FFA, most state FFA officers will also be K-State students during their year in office. Kansas FFA officers attend classes as usual during that year, unlike officers at the national level — those students take a gap year when they serve as national officers.

Michael Dowd, sophomore in animal science, and Scuyler Zenger, sophomore in food science and global food systems leadership, just retired from their terms as state officers last weekend. Dowd served as the state vice president, and Zenger was the state secretary.

They shared their insights on how they got involved with FFA and the significance of K-State as the convention’s host.

Q: How did you initially get involved with FFA?

Dowd: “I joined FFA with a huge interest in livestock judging and showing. While this still played a key factor in my FFA career, I soon discovered FFA offers much more than livestock activities.”

Zenger: “I took an eighth grade ag class and got exposed to it, plus my dad and older sister had always been big supporters of FFA. When I started my cattle herd at age 10, I realized I could be a big part of our local FFA chapter.”

Q: What were the factors that led you to pursue state office?

Dowd: “I ran for state office because I had great experiences with former state officers who impacted my life positively. I wanted to give my talents to Kansas FFA and help members find their own calling.”

Zenger: “I had always been really impressed by our chapter officers and how they led and got people to be inspired to do great things. Also, as I have gotten older and attended leadership conferences, I started to understand a little more of what my personal message is and how I can make an impact in the world to make it a more welcoming place.”

Q: What can FFA members learn about college and K-State at convention?

Dowd: “FFA members have a unique experience to see and live [on] campus without the hustle of the school year. Members are already exposed to buildings, restaurants and favorite Manhattan traditions.”

Zenger: “There are multiple opportunities during convention to learn about college and K-State. There are workshops held by current college students, the opportunities fair where many departments attend and the opportunity to schedule campus visits of our farms and other cool College of Agriculture opportunities.”

I'm Dene Dryden, and I graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor's of Arts in English. Before graduating, I worked at the Collegian for more than three years as a copy chief, managing editor and editor-in-chief. I also served a term on the Collegian Media Group Board of Directors. While at K-State, I also worked at Wildcat 91.1 FM. My cat Robyn is the light of my life, and I take compliments in the form of coffee.