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Destined for FFA

Humphreys County’s Libby Rushton positively impacts her future by following in her family’s footsteps.
Story and photos by: Allison Farley 4/24/2020


Jordan McMillian, agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Waverly Central High School, visits Libby Rushton, senior student and Waverly FFA President, at her farm to review her Beef Production supervised agricultural experience.
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Like many FFA members across the country, Libby Rushton of Waverly did not join FFA —she was born into it.

As the second child of Lee and Andrea Rushton, Libby says she was destined for FFA, following in the footsteps of both her father and older sister, Emma.

Almost since birth, Libby, who is three years younger than Emma, was her sister’s sidekick in all things from farm chores to sports. During high school, Emma was active in FFA and even served as the chapter secretary her senior year, so it was no surprise to friends or family when Libby also expressed an interest in FFA.

“I was in eighth grade, and I already knew that I was going to be involved in FFA,” says Libby. “As soon as I met my FFA advisor, Mr. McMillan, at ninth-grade orientation, any doubt that taking the agriculture course path was the right choice for me disappeared.”

Libby hit the ground running after joining FFA her freshman year, and jumped into the creed speaking event. Students competing in leadership development event memorize the FFA creed, answer FFA-related interview questions, and take a knowledge exam on the organization. Students memorize the FFA creed, which was written by E.M. Tiffany, answer FFA-related interview questions, and take an FFA knowledge exam. Libby went on to represent her chapter at the regional contest.

“This contest was the perfect fit for Libby since she is passionate about telling people about agriculture,” says Jordan McMillian, who teaches agriculture and serves as FFA advisor at Waverly Central High School.

Libby also began her supervised agricultural experience (SAE) in Beef Production as soon as she began her first agriculture class. While her SAE started when she was in high school, Libby’s love for cattle began long before that.

She grew up on a 1,600-acre cattle and row-crop operation just outside Waverly, and her parents are long-time members of Humphreys Farmers Cooperative. Her father, Lee, has served on the Co-op board since 1998.

Emma and Libby began showing cattle in 2008 when Libby was in the first grade and soon fell in love with the Herford breed. They became members of the state and national breed association in 2010.

While other families might take summer vacations to the beach, the Rushtons spent their time traveling to show cattle. They started with a commercial heifer from their pasture at a few small shows to now showing across the country. The Rushtons choose to feed their cattle Co-op 15% Beef Show Feed to help grow and develop their calves that are intended to be shown.

Libby and her family have attended every Junior National Cattle show since they started showing. Among many awards, Libby claimed the Overall Horned Hereford Reserve Champion at Hereford Junior Nationals in 2012, won the Tennessee State Fair Hereford Open and Junior Show in 2016, and won grand champion at Tennessee Jr. Beef Expo in 2012 and 2018. A major highlight of Libby’s SAE was serving as the Tennessee Hereford Queen and competing for the national queen title in 2019.

The National Hereford Queen development program has been helping develop young women who show cattle in the Hereford breed since 1955. Each year, state Hereford queens gather at the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City for the interview and selection process. Libby was fortunate enough to be named the first runner up in the national contest.

While the Rushton’s have continued showing cattle throughout high school, Libby has also taken an interest in cattle outside the show ring, including the genetics of the family cattle herd. Libby works closely with her father to make breeding decisions as well as culling choices. Thanks to Libby’s help during the last few years, the farm operation now includes selling some show cattle.

“As I’ve grown, I have realized how much work raising cattle takes and how much time is required outside the ring to produce a good animal,” says Libby. “It is really a full-family effort, and I love the time it gives us together.”

Just as Libby stepped up on the farm, she has also accepted leadership roles within her FFA chapter. During her sophomore year she served as the chapter vice president, and began taking the lead on many chapter events, including recruitment.

“I just wanted to make my fellow classmates in our agriculture classes realize that FFA isn’t only a club for farming, cattle, and the animal side of things,” says Libby. “The things that we learn in FFA like public speaking, teamwork, and money management through agriculture scenarios are going to serve us for the rest of our lives.”

Libby’s leadership skills led her to be named chapter president last year as a junior and now as a senior. During her time as president, the organization has seen great growth in numbers and in career development events.

During her senior year, Libby also recieved the coveted state FFA degree with several of her classmates.

Upon Libby’s graduation this May, her career plans include attending the University of Tennessee at Martin where she will work towards a degree in agricultural business with a minor in political science. Libby hopes this degree will help her work towards her goal of being a lobbyist for an agriculture-based company.

“I am so thankful that I grew up on a farm and in a family that loved agriculture and FFA,” says Libby. “Without my family and their ability to help my sister and me show cattle, I don’t know where I would be today.”

2020 State FFA Convention

The 92nd Tennessee FFA Convention, originally scheduled for March 29-April 1 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, has been canceled with the hope to reschedule later this year. The event’s theme was “Envision” and more than 3,000 members, advisors, alumni, and agribusiness partners were anticipated to be in attendance.

The convention is designed each year to teach valuable leadership and technical skills and celebrate the successes of the past year. The annual event celebrates chapter achievements and gives students the opportunity to compete and earn the chance to represent Tennessee at the National FFA Convention in October in Indianapolis.

Co-op is proud to be an active part of FFA Convention each year, and at the 2020 event, will present a check for $6,965, which is the proceeds from the FFA t-shirt program developed jointly between Tennessee Farmers Cooperative and the FFA Foundation. TFC also will sponsor the Star in Agribusiness award, the prepared public speaking contest, and the Diversified Agricultural and Diversified Livestock Production proficiencies.

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