• Name: Amanda Rhodes
  • Age: 17
  • Grade: Senior
  • School: Belleville Henderson
  • FFA Advisor: Ms. McDougal and Mr. Jones
  • Chapter Position: Treasurer

Briefly explain to me your Supervised Agricultural Experience Program.

I live and work on my parent's large greenhouse operation. We are the largest bedding plant business in northern New York. We have 22 greenhouses that produce thousands of plants, which we sell to the general public. I have learned expert skills working with my parents and as a student of agricultural science program at our local high school. I also work at our General Store located on our property. We offer a full line of groceries as well as a deli. We have a counter for people to eat breakfasts and lunches in the store. This business compliments our greenhouse business by bringing in customers from a three county area. I help manage the store and work with inventory and customer management. I personally have an Orchid inventory that I am developing for a future business. I have 25 different kinds of Orchids that I manage and I am planning to expand in the future.

What are some of your involvements with the FFA?

  • National FFA Chorus 2011, 2012
  • New York State FFA Chorus 2009
  • Washington Leadership Conference
  • Conference of Leadership Training
  • Made for Excellence Conference
  • Advanced Leadership Training Conference
  • Land Judging and Various Summer Fair CDE's
  • Big E-Eastern Exposition
  • Chapter Officer

Why did you get involved with FFA?

During my freshmen fear of high school I was enrolled in an agriculture class with Mr. Jones. At Belleville Henderson if you are in any agriculture class, you are automatically an FFA member. I competed in the Creed Speaking career development event. I won first at both District and Sub District levels moving to states where I didn't place. This was my first State Convention and I absolutely loved everything about it. The summer of 2010 I attended the Washington Leadership Conference and met FFA members from all over the United States, some of which I still communicate with today. This is where I discovered that I wanted to be active in some way at the national level and to continue meeting members from across our nation. Having a strong passion for music I found my place with the State Chorus at State Convention and then pursuing my goal of being a member of the National FFA Chorus. I was fortunate to be in the National FFA Chorus for two years, having the opportunity to have individual solos each year.

Tell me what your future career goals are?

Well, tough question, I am constantly changing my mind! It is fair to say that I would like to maintain a focus on plant studies and biotechnology, specifically on orchids. I hope to work for a company, such as Monsanto, engineering crops to yield more in order to meet our needs of the increasing human population. I also am very passionate about fighting cancer, I wouldn't mind working for a pharmaceutical company with efforts of discovering cures for cancer and other death related diseases. I can't forget my music either. Although I am not interested in pursuing a degree in the field of music, it most definitely will be a major aspect of my life.

You were apart of the 84th National FFA Convention?

I recently returned from the National FFA Convention where I was a member of the National FFA Chorus and a soloist in front of over 50,000 audience members. I was with two other outstanding New York FFA members who were in the National FFA Chorus; Phillip Fargo from the Belleville Henderson FFA Chapter and Tracy Kokell from the Sidney FFA Chapter. Auditioning for the chorus involves an application process and an audio recording of our voices submitted with the application. It is a very selective procedure and only about 90 members are part of the chorus. We arrived four days before convention began and worked diligently to perfect our sound with days of fourteen-hour practices that prepared us for long sessions and performances. Being in the National FFA Chorus is an experience all in itself, having the opportunity to be a soloist just adds to the excitement. Having my face spread across a one hundred and twenty foot screen, while Fellow New York FFA members cheered me on, and being aired on National Television definitely put the pressure on. The adrenaline rush from singing as the soloist was the best part. Phil Fargo felt the same pressure and adrenaline, when he introduced a song and introduced the soloist and the National Chorus Director. Reuniting with fellow National FFA Chorus alumni and other FFA members I have met through this organization is perhaps the most rewarding part of this experience. Another exciting feature of being in the chorus is that you get to spend a lot of time with the past and present National FFA Officers. It was a real honor to be on stage when Ken Quick was elected as a National Officer. I remember jumping up and down, screaming my head off. It was the greatest feeling singing my solo in the song "Firework" immediately after Kenny was elected, I was so pumped from his accomplishment! Leaving the new the friendships I had developed and leaving Indianapolis was the hardest obstacle to overcome! I strongly encourage fellow FFA members who have a passion for music and singing, to pursue being in the National FFA chorus. Ask your advisor about the opportunity and you can find the application online, at! It is a great way to do something you love, which is singing, through the organization we all love, the FFA!

Well, what's next Amanda? What are your future goals for FFA?

I would like to become a state officer and serve our great state! I would also like to work at the Washington Leadership Conference as a facilitator. In the meantime I will keep active at the local level and I anticipate on applying for proficiencies this year at the state level. Be sure to make it to the 2012 New York State FFA Convention to see me singing on stage through a talent act!

Image Gallery