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Jillian Sanchez proud to be in FFA

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The end of the school year at Chiefland Middle High School also means the end of many other annual events and cycles. But in the FFA community, achievement awards, presentations and acknowledgment of accomplishments come with summer.

The granddaddy of recognition in the agricultural education community is the Future Farmers of America Association Stars of Florida Awards. What makes this so special this year is Jillian Sanchez; a local student who is in the running.

Jillian is a 14-year-old eighth grade student at CMHS is a finalist for her achievements in the State Star Discovery category. The convention and exposition is June 12-16 in Orlando at the Caribe Royale Hotel. She takes the stage June 14 where she will be interviewed by a panel of judges comprised of FFA, industry and agriculture education representatives. Throughout the interview process, the judges will learn Jillian has met the basic requirements for the Discovery Area and has surpassed expectations.

Jillian has been judging livestock since she was eight years old and will talk to the judges about her own 22 head of cattle, which she cares for and shows.

“I don’t have a favorite anymore and I don’t name them anymore either,” she said during a recent interview with the Chiefland Citizen.

In addition to having her own herd of cattle, Jillian also holds her Alpha Toxin Certification, which allows her to inspect crops such as harvested peanuts, which is just one part of Sanchez Farms.

Jillian was very proud in the fact that “two out of every five peanuts in Peanut M&M’s come from Sanchez Farms.”

Jillian enjoys her involvement in the family business. Her father, Trey Sanchez, was an FFA State Star for Agri-Business. Jillian is also supported in her FFA activities by her mother LaTashia Sanchez who teaches at Chiefland Elementary. Both parents play a key role in the path Jillian’s plan to continue her education in accounting, knowledge she will apply in the family farming business as an accountant.

When asked if she was the only child, Jillian said as a big smile took over her face, “No, I have a 2-year-old little brother named Jake. He loves cows too.”

By Kate Sheridan

When asked what her favorite part of FFA is, she said, “Cattle,” which she “baths and cares for daily.”

Her passion and diligence shows in the accolades and awards she has received and Jillian is committed to the development of agriculture.

Wondering what Jillian might do in her free time? The answer was “FFA.” Most of her time is devoted to FFA activities, whether it’s showing, judging, training or classes; she can be found involved in something related to agriculture, “and volleyball and softball,” she quickly added. She plays junior varsity in both sports.

Jillian is currently in Kansas with her local FFA chapter for a livestock judging clinic to further her experience and knowledge. The group is accompanied by Chiefland High School Agriculture Advisor Dallas Locke.

Locke has been involved in the lives of most of the chapter members before they were old enough to be in FFA.

Lock said he “has been a friend of the family and has known Jillian since she was about 5 years old.”

Locke, who has three daughters of his own who are ages 3, 6 and 9 said, “I can’t wait until they all old enough to participate in FFA officially.”

At this point he says they joke that he is “Jillian’s shared dad. She is a great kid, very easy to talk to, even on an adult level and is very goal oriented.”

It’s this commitment to agriculture, farming, community and family the judges will see when they meet Jillian Sanchez.