Five years ago, one Hope eighth-grade student had never heard of FFA, nor did she have any interest in agriculture.

Things change, however, and 18-year-old Natalie Taylor, a recent graduate of Hauser High School, has become an FFA state officer with hopes to pursue a career in agriculture communications.

Taylor was among 19 Indiana high school students to apply for a position on the seven-member FFA state officer team. After a rigorous three-day interview process in June, she was elected to serve as the state’s FFA reporter.

Her introduction to FFA as an eighth-grader, however, was accidental.

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“I just happened to be running an errand for my teacher and came across an FFA pancake breakfast. They were celebrating National FFA Week,” Taylor recalled.

Taylor joined the Hauser chapter her freshman year and later took on leadership positions in the local chapter and district, such as co-reporter and District IX treasurer.

That experience convinced Taylor to reach even higher — seeking a state office position.

After having submitted the application, Taylor received a letter June 21 from the state FFA organization that would inform her of the results.

She went into a room with her parents and sister to open it while her friends awaited the news outside.

“When I opened the letter and saw my name, I dropped to the ground and gasped. I hope I never forget that feeling,” Taylor said.

As the state reporter, Taylor will be responsible for informing the public about FFA-related events and updating all Indiana FFA social media accounts. She will also work with fellow state officers to organize the annual state convention, workshops and camps for chapters across Indiana.

Taylor said and the other state officers will receive scholarships for their year of service, but the amounts have not yet been announced.

{&subleft}Sharing in celebration

Two days after receiving the letter, Taylor was escorted by local first responders to her high school, where she was greeted with a surprise celebration to honor her achievement.

“It was such a good feeling to be able to see how happy they were for me,” she said. “To have that extra support is what helped motivate me.”

Aleesa Dickerson, Hauser’s FFA adviser, worked with Taylor throughout her high school career. She said Taylor’s unconventional look at agriculture and FFA, despite never growing up on a farm, helps make her an exceptional leader.

“She’s always incredibly enthusiastic,” Dickerson said. “That enthusiasm and passion, she spreads them like confetti.”

Alongside her support system of family and friends, Taylor said her greatest motivation came from her faith in God.

“I knew the whole time that He had a plan, and I was just hoping that this was part of it,” Taylor said.

{&subleft}Stepping into the job

Taylor had a mere 48 hours at home before she moved into the FFA Leadership Center in Trafalgar, where she will reside for one year with her fellow state officers.

She will complete several training sessions with the team this summer in Indiana and Illinois, plan for various conferences and spend a month at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the Indiana State Fair.

Over the next year, she will travel around the state with the officer team to visit local schools. Taylor will also plan and attend various camps and workshops for FFA members, including SOAR, which stands for Seeking Opportunities and Achieving Results.

SOAR is a three-day conference for beginning FFA members. Taylor attended SOAR as a freshman, and said it was the place where her passion for FFA sparked.

“I never would have dreamed going to SOAR that I would be a state officer one day,” Taylor said. “It has a really special place in my heart.”

After devoting a year to her state office, Taylor plans to attend classes at Ivy Tech for two years before transferring to a four-year institution to earn a degree in agriculture communications.

Taylor is the third Hauser High School graduate since 2013 to serve as an FFA state officer. Brittany Young was elected president in 2014, and Joshua Calhoun was elected sentinel in 2015.

Natalie Taylor

Age: 18

Hometown: Hope

Family: Parents Scott and Christy Taylor, three brothers and two sisters.

Education: Graduated from Hauser Sr. High School in May

Sports: Volleyball, tennis

Best part of FFA: “The click moments you have. There are so many click moments that happen for anyone involved in FFA, whether its realizing that this activity just sparked an interest in what you want to go into in the future or maybe it’s a click moment with a friend.”

Indiana FFA

Indiana FFA is an organization serving more than 12,000 high-school aged students throughout the state. The organization promotes and supports agricultural education and leadership.

To learn more, visit inffa.org/