Grant Norfleet earns a spot on the National FFA stage
In 24 hours, Grant Norfleet made his inaugural trip to Washington, D.C., witnessed two turkeys be pardoned and took a selfie with President Joe Biden. That epic trip was just the beginning of a life-changing year for this small-town farm kid from Mexico.
This past November, Grant’s name was called to serve as one of the six National FFA officers. This honor is rare; he is just the 25th Missourian to serve as a National FFA officer since the student organization that focuses on agricultural education began naming them in 1928. In front of 70,000 cheering FFA members, the University of Missouri student accepted the honor as National FFA secretary at the 2023 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.
As a National FFA officer, Grant and his five teammates will travel 100,000 miles during their year in office. “It’s a big commitment,” he says. “I’m excited to see agriculture, FFA and education on a larger scope and through a variety of lenses. It’s really neat to see the broad spectrum of students in FFA.”
National FFA officers, who are typically college students, take leave from their studies to spend the year dedicated to the youth organization. The role has three distinct duties, Grant says:
- Be a student voice of the youth organization. The officers serve on the National FFA board of directors for the year and share their thoughts on how to improve and drive the organization.
- Connect FFA students to the national organization. This involves the six officers traveling to all 50 state FFA conventions, as well as visits at more local levels.
- Serve as the student connection for FFA stakeholders and sponsors. The team will meet with industry leaders to garner support for the organization.
“As one of six students from across the nation, Grant has been selected to serve and represent students of all backgrounds and experiences and be their voice for National FFA,” says Marie Davis, Missouri FFA executive treasurer. “Grant’s best attribute is he’s so humble. He doesn’t shy from the spotlight, but he wants the spotlight to be on youth development.”
Grant grew up in a people-oriented family, so he says it’s no surprise service has been a natural path for him. His dad, Kent, teaches diesel technology at the Hart Career Center in Mexico, and his mother, Allison, is a professional counselor. At home, the Norfleets, members of Consolidated Electric Cooperative, tend a cow-calf operation, meaning Grant and his brother, Jack, spent a lot of time showing livestock through 4-H and FFA.
Through FFA, Grant focused on beef production along with agricultural education and service learning. While in high school, he revived a summer camp in his county for young 4-H members, teaching them about agriculture. He then went on to serve as the youth program development intern for 4-H in Boone County.
Grant and his brother spent many summers showing livestock through 4-H and FFA across Missouri. Last summer Grant served as the leadership director for Missouri State FFA Camp. In that role he developed the curriculum for Missouri students who traveled to Camp Rising Sun.
At Mizzou, Grant studies agricultural education and leadership with a communications emphasis and minors in agribusiness management and digital storytelling. “I love learning and it’s cool to see how learning evolves over time,” he says. “I want to find ways to use learning and strategy to help folks learn, whether that’s curriculum for youth programs, curriculum in the classroom or even learning in a professional setting.”
His major made him a perfect fit to serve as the leadership director for Missouri State FFA Camp. In that role he developed the curriculum for the students from across Missouri who traveled to Camp Rising Sun last summer. “I am a firm believer every FFA member should attend Missouri FFA State Convention, National FFA Convention and FFA camp,” Grant says. “Those are the three things students need to go to for the full experience of what FFA actually encompasses.”
Grant served as a chapter officer in Mexico during high school, as well as an area officer. Then he served as a Missouri FFA Association vice president from 2021 to 2022. Those offices took preparation and drive and prepared him for the rigorous process of becoming a national officer. Each state can name one member to be its national officer candidate. Grant was selected last summer to represent Missouri, making him one of 35 candidates for the six coveted national officer positions.
He spent months preparing for the grueling seven-day interview process ahead of the National FFA Convention. During the interviews, he made videos based on a provided topic, led a leadership workshop, faced judges in one-on-one interviews, performed media interviews and delivered an extemporaneous speech. Each part is to help the nominating committee evaluate a candidate based on five competencies: communication, team player, knowledge, character and influence.
Grant made it through the first round, which meant he was one of 21 finalists. During the last convention general session, in a blur of emotion and cheers, Grant’s name was called to serve as National FFA secretary.
Above all, Grant is excited to inspire future leaders through FFA. “What’s really unique about the organization is the vision is to create the next generation of leaders who will change the world,” he says. “Yes, I hope when students leave their agricultural education classroom they know where their food comes from and they can be an advocate for agriculture. But we’re also equipping students to grow as a leader in or outside of agriculture.”
For updates and glimpses of Grant Norfleet’s travels during his year of service as National FFA Secretary, follow him on Instagram at @nffa_secretary. Your local FFA chapter will be celebrating National FFA Week from Feb. 17-24. Learn more at www.missouriffa.org.