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Hillsboro's Carter Boyd forging own path in FFA as State Vice President

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Hillsboro junior Carter Boyd, fifth from left, stands with the 2024-25 Ohio FFA State Officer team. (Photos courtesy of Carter Boyd)
Caitlin Forsha, The Highland County Press

A family legacy, a passion for the organization and years of hard work and dedication have led Hillsboro junior Carter Boyd to the highest level in Ohio FFA, as he has been slated as a state officer for the upcoming school year.

Boyd, the son of Clinton and Marcy Boyd, will be a senior at Hillsboro High School while serving as the 2024-25 Ohio FFA State Vice President. The announcement was made at the 2024 State Convention, where he also earned his State Degree.

Carter Boyd

Boyd is the first HHS representative to serve in state office since Joe Helterbrand (2020-21), although Highland County has been well represented at the state level in recent years. 

He is an active member of the Barnyard Bunch 4-H Club, shows cattle and serves as Junior Fair Board president, HHS junior class president and a member of the National Honor Society. Boyd is currently serving as Hillsboro FFA Vice President and has been chosen to serve as the chapter president next year.

“Carter’s been a very active member of our chapter,” Hillsboro FFA adviser Brian Cummings told The Highland County Press. “He’s involved in a lot of our activities, community service and CDEs. He has served as very good officer this past year, where he has continued to develop his leadership qualities and mentor younger members.”

During his tenure with the Hillsboro FFA, Boyd has participated in a number of different events and contests, such as livestock judging, ag sales, ag biotechnology, job interview, public speaking, parliamentary procedure, soils judging and envirothon. He said a favorite memory was competing in the state public speaking CDE contest with three other Hillsboro FFA members, as he and two teammates advanced to the national contest at the Big E in Massachusetts this September.

Unsurprisingly, Boyd has also enjoyed taking a leadership role within his chapter, working with other officers and helping to plan activities.

“The team I'm on now is really fun,” Boyd said. “We're a very strong group of kids that are all very involved in FFA, and great leaders, so there's a lot of ideas coming in. It's kind of fun to take everyone's ideas and shape it into something new that we want to do. We've had a lot of different events we’ve started this year or taken further.

“One that kind of pops out in my mind is one we called the Highland County Hoedown. It was a dance we did, where we invited all the Highland County FFA chapters, and all the money and proceeds from that went to a member of our chapter whose stepfather was battling cancer. That was something we did for a good cause, and we plan to do it again if someone in Highland County needs the help.”

As Boyd noted, everyone’s path in FFA is different, but for him, FFA is in his blood, describing himself as a third-generation member. He has grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins who have all been active FFA participants, including his aunt, the former Abby Yochum, paving the way for him as a former State Vice President herself (2003-04). 

Similarly, Boyd has many relatives involved with farming, 4-H, raising and showing cattle, so agriculture is a huge part of his young life, and joining his school’s FFA chapter was never in doubt.

“I can remember, going way back to like our family Christmases and stuff as a kid, we’d always talk about their stories and goals and the things they did in FFA,” Boyd said. “Hearing about that and their different achievements was really cool, and it's been even cooler in the past three years to kind of experience some of the similar things they did, but also kind of make my own path into that as well. You get to go home from FFA and talk to your parents about it because they they understand and they know what it's like, so that's really cool.” 

Even so, becoming a state officer was not necessarily an immediate goal, but Boyd said that his mom ran for state office and his aunt was slated, so it was something he kept in mind. What really clicked for him was his first trip to FFA Camp, when he was inspired by another local FFA member turned state officer.

Boyd said getting to know former Ohio FFA state president Aubrey Schwartz, a Miami Trace graduate, was what really helped pique his interest in running for state office.

“We’re still really good friends to this day, but she was very welcoming,” he said. “I had a great time at camp, and she helped make that experience so great for me. That was kind of the moment I was like, ‘She's done a lot of positive things for me; I want to have that same chance to do that for a lot of kids that are in the shoes that I was.’ I've kind of carried that with me through the entire process.”

Having a wide range of relatives and friends in the FFA world, Boyd said he leaned on many of them for help in preparing to run for office, including his parents. He thanked his aunt Abby for her help in doing practice interview questions and scenarios over the phone, and Schwartz, who met with him as well.

Boyd’s initial experience at camp was also alluded to in his “Why I Desire to Serve as an Ohio FFA Officer,” a written and verbal statement that plays a key role in the election process.

“I had several ideas for what I wanted to do with that, but what I finally ended up using was talking about so many of these firsts in FFA, and how they've influenced me and how they influence other people,” Boyd said. “I talked about my first time putting on my corduroy jacket, the first time at national convention and how I connected with members, and the first time I went to FFA Camp where I was very nervous and kind of felt welcomed in. 

“I kind of used that to talk about how I want my firsts to reflect and inspire so many other firsts for the members I'm going to be working with in the next year.”

Along with his “Why I Desire” — which includes both a written version and a video speech — Boyd said he also had to fill out an application and write two thank-you letters to sponsors before attending the in-person meetings with judges.

Getting to the actual in-person interview, however, was nerve-wracking. Boyd said he was “nervous out of my mind” leading up to it, and then due to some unexpected traffic issues, he was afraid that he and his mom would be late arriving for his interview at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. 

“Mom was like, ‘you’re going to have to run out of this car and run to your interview,’ but we made it there in time,” he said.

Once safely at the fairgrounds, Boyd said he first took part in an interview with five judges, then a “scenario” with a former state FFA president, overseen by another five judges.

“The scenario was much harder than the interview, I thought, just because it was something new that I've never done before,” Boyd said. “I think it went decently well — definitely not my best interview, I wouldn't say, because I was so nervous.”

As stressful as that process was, Boyd said even worse for him was having to wait until the state convention to find out how he did, as the interviews took place April 5-6.

“April felt like a yearlong month,” he said. “You have kind of an idea of how you did, but at the same time, you're going against 45 of the best kids in the state that all want to be on this team. They all love FFA, they’ve all pushed themselves in the organization. It's really hard to set yourself apart from those kids.”

It was clear that Boyd did set himself apart, however, as he heard his name called at the first session of the convention as one of two finalists for State Vice President. But in the words of Tom Petty, “The waiting is the hardest part,” and for Boyd, that continued to be the case through convention. 

After waiting a month to find out how he did, he said it was hard to sit through the first session at convention, where the officer slate is the final part of the session. Not only that, but Boyd was the very last person named in the announcement, and after hearing a combined eight candidates named for State Sentinel, State Reporter, State Secretary and State Treasurer, Boyd said he had almost given up hope.

“It's two kids for each position, but all the state officer candidates are sitting there in the very front row,” Boyd said. “To my left is my friend that I knew pretty well, and to my right is my other friend, both that I met at camp. The one to my left was called for Sentinel, so he's gone immediately. Next was Reporter, and my other friend to my right got sent, so I'm sitting there by myself. 

“I was the very last person called on the ballot. They got through Secretary, and I was like, ‘I thought I did decently, but there's no way I made it this far.’”

After hearing his name called and joining the other finalists on stage, Boyd said he and the other candidates were taken to the delegate session to share their Why I Desires in person, then the delegation voted for the state officers. 

“I didn't even get to talk to my family, or everybody that was there supporting me, because I had to sit there until everybody's speech was done,” Boyd said. “Then we went back in the back and we were all crying and hugging each other. It was sweet. 

“They actually got to watch me do my speech, which I was happy about, because they had by then heard it a thousand times.”

The waiting still wasn’t over, though, as Boyd then had to wait until the final part of the final session of convention to find out if he would be State Vice President or an at-large state officer. However, this time it was a little easier, as they announced the at-large officers first, and he heard the other State VP candidate’s name (Josie Jennings) called at the end of that list.

“We're all sitting there with the person who got slated with, and we're all holding hands and scared to death wondering what will happen,” he said. “I knew that the last vice president at large would be the one either Josie or I, so I knew that if I got called, I'm obviously vice president at large, and if she got called, that means I got Vice President.”

Boyd said when they said Jennings’ name, he hugged her, but then emotions took over. The FFA’s photographer snapped a photo of Boyd’s reaction when the realization hit him. As candidates around him wait in excitement, Boyd is pictured sitting with his head in his hands, crying, as he waits to hear his name.

“I just broke down, realizing I got vice president,” he said. “It didn’t feel real, and really, it still doesn't feel real, because it's something that I've always thought about doing and always seen. Getting to know that I am going to be able to experience that and get that position — it’s just everything, all the emotions, overwhelm you at once.”

Boyd said his family, including his parents, grandparents, sister and aunt; two family friends; and the entire Hillsboro FFA chapter were on hand to celebrate with him. 

“It’s pretty exciting having another state officer. It’s been a while since we’ve had one,” Cummings said. “He’s put some effort in to get to this point. It was quite an honor and exciting to see that happen at state convention. 

“It was an exciting first session at state convention that he got slated, and it was even more exciting to end the convention with him being elected Vice President. It was a pretty awesome experience, and we’re pretty happy for him.”

Other friends from across the county and state were also celebrating with Boyd, which he said meant a lot to him.

“It was really, really cool to see the other schools in Highland County and the surrounding area,” Boyd said. “They were also happy to see me.

“For those schools to support someone that wasn't from their chapter, but someone that they know, and they're excited for — it was really neat to see all that.”

After the session, Boyd said the Hillsboro FFA members wanted to ask him two questions. One was “Are you going to be at the camp session whenever Hillsboro is there?” He said that’s because “all my summer plans just got canceled” as far as anything beyond FFA Camp, so his fellow chapter members “want to come and see me” at camp.

The other question was “How are you going to balance it all with the chapter?” Of the 11 state officers slated for 2024-25, Boyd said he is one of four who is going to be entering their senior year of high school. 

“It’s just a real privilege to get to do that,” Cummings said. “There’s only 11 members elected each year to be on the officer team each year so it’s quite an honor to be selected as one of the top 11 in the state.

“A lot of times they are going into college, but he got the privilege of being elected going into his senior year. It will be a challenge to balance, but I know Carter will continue to do a lot of things with us but will do also a lot of stuff with the state officer team — chapter visits, camp for four weeks. Trying to balance those things will be somewhat of a challenge, but I’m sure he’ll do fine.” 

Boyd said that due to state responsibilities, he will be missing “a lot of actual school days,” but he plans to continue to be an active member of the Hillsboro chapter.

“Stuff we have planned out, like our officer team bonding for our incoming officer team for our chapter, we kind of scheduled that away from [FFA] Camp, knowing this might happen,” he said. “There'll be things I'll have to miss for the state level and things I'll have to miss for the chapter level. I’ll have to find that perfect balance, and I know the Ohio Association and Hillsboro will be understanding with everything, too. I've already had many conversations with them.”

Boyd said he is disappointed about missing out on some experiences that he enjoys with his classmates, like traveling to national convention together, but he’s still excited about seeing the national convention from a new perspective. Boyd added that he’s also looking forward to getting to know his fellow state officers better, in a more relaxed setting than the high-stakes, stressful environment at the state convention.

After spending the summer helping run FFA Camp — which he said he is “looking forward to the most” as of right now — Boyd will travel around the state representing Ohio FFA this upcoming school year, including doing chapter visits and other public speaking events.

“I don't really know entirely what to expect,” Boyd said. “I've heard experiences and stories from other state officers, but I also think being a state officer is you’ve got to make it your own thing. There's not a certain path you’ve got to follow. 

“I’m also really excited to just go to the different chapter visits and go give speeches for banquets and things because I just love to go up to people and talk and hear their stories and hear the things they've done. That's kind of inspirational for me, so being able to have the opportunity to talk to so many kids that are so diverse and have different goals is something I’m really looking forward to.” 

In no particular order, Boyd thanked his parents, Clint and Marcy Boyd; his grandparents, Fred and Barb Yochum and Earl and Lisa Boyd; his sister, Ann; his aunt, Abby; his adviser, Brian Cummings, and former adviser, Libby McNeal; the Hillsboro FFA chapter; Maddie Dearmon and her family; and “everyone that’s ever helped me” along the way as he looks forward to the upcoming year. 

What Boyd will do after his high school and FFA career is over is still undecided, but he said he hopes to go to college somewhere in Ohio for a degree in the business field. His plan is to return to Hillsboro, where he wants to help with his family’s businesses, The Porch and A-1 Tree Care, and continue to give back to the community he loves.

“I love it here. I want to raise a family here,” Boyd said. “The people just make it so great here. My family actually has two small businesses here. 

“I'd like to be able to come back home and help my family run the businesses, just because it's so important to me, and I know how important it is to my family as well.”

Boyd added that not only his family, but his experience in FFA, are helping to shape his future plans to give back to the Hillsboro community. 

“The biggest thing about being involved in FFA, especially here in Hillsboro, is the small town, kind of ag-rich community, is really, really neat,” Boyd said. “You don't really realize until you reach out, but there's so many community members and businesses that want to support the youth, especially those in FFA. 

“Not every community has that same kind of feeling. It’s something that I probably took for granted before. The ones that do help and support don't walk around boasting around it because they're not doing it for that reason, they do it because they realize the importance of the organization. That's been something that's been really, really cool for me to be able to see. 

“It’s something I've taken in consideration for me as I start to kind of think about moving on to the next part of my life, wherever I end up, to remember how those adults and people have influenced me, to make sure to realize the importance of giving back.”

Publisher's note: A free press is critical to having well-informed voters and citizens. While some news organizations opt for paid websites or costly paywalls, The Highland County Press has maintained a free newspaper and website for the last 25 years for our community. If you would like to contribute to this service, it would be greatly appreciated. Donations may be made to: The Highland County Press, P.O. Box 849, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133. Please include "for website" on the memo line.


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