COLUMBUS — Isabelle Stewart’s to-do list just got a bit longer.
The Lakeview High School student has a planner she uses to write down priorities in her upcoming schedule. She tries to get everything done before they are marked urgent.
She has always been good at planning, a skill that's come in handy as she finishes her senior year while also training to be a Nebraska FFA state officer.
Stewart was one of five FFA students in the state to recently be named a vice president, a position she will hold for the next year. She went through an application process and three rounds of interviews before her selection was announced at the Nebraska FFA State Convention earlier this month.
“She truly does have a passion for agriculture and I can see her igniting that in FFA members across the state. I think the selection committee could see that in her as well because when she starts talking about agriculture, her face lights up and she just gets on a roll,” said Catherine Ripp, FFA adviser at Lakeview.
As a vice president, Stewart will go on visits to other high schools and help train chapter officers at conferences throughout the year. She is the first Lakeview student to be a state FFA officer in at least 10 years.
Stewart wants to encourage students to look at careers in agriculture.
After graduating high school she will attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to pursue a degree in agronomy and become an agricultural education teacher and FFA adviser.
Stewart has known her career path for a while thanks to her life on the farm.
“I had been spending a lot of time with my dad on the farm and I was actively involved in the science program at Madison. That’s when I thought that the soil and plants things was kind of cool,” she said.
Stewart moved with her parents Klint and Cindi and sister Emma from Madison to Columbus when she was a sophomore and joined FFA, a program that wasn’t available at her previous school.
Though she spent time on a farm where corn, soybeans, milo, alfalfa and all-natural swine are raised, she wasn’t prepared for the program to teach her so much.
“I haven’t just learned about agriculture. I’ve been able to develop leadership skills, find my career path, as well as discover who I am,” Stewart said.
For the last year, she has served as president of the Lakeview FFA chapter. She also has a blog — throughtheeyesofthefarmer.com — where she writes about agricultural issues. That project won her an award from the Nebraska Corn Board Ag Champions Program that recognizes students who advocate for agriculture.
Ripp said Stewart always goes the extra mile, whether it's with her classroom assignments or in FFA. Stewart takes her role with FFA seriously, even giving up basketball and track so she could budget more time to being a state officer.
She will also have to make adjustments to fit in her state officer duties during college, as she will visit about 25 chapters in Nebraska during her spring semester.
The FFA program in Nebraska has 176 chapters with more than 8,000 members. Stewart hopes represent those students well.
“I just really want to be able to serve the members and inspire them to continue in agriculture,” she said.