State Officer Grace Doss said she quickly became passionate about FFA
WEST PLAINS, MO. – “My middle school self didn’t know what FFA was,” recalled Grace Doss. “I thought sports were going to be my future. Now I can’t imagine life without FFA.”
Grace is now a State FFA vice president who graduated from West Plains High School in Howell County, Mo., in May 2022 as a member of West Plains FFA.
“I grew up on a farm, but wasn’t involved in the farm until I joined FFA,” she explained. “My dad and uncle convinced me I needed a basic understanding of agriculture, so I enrolled in the ag classes and joined FFA.
“I was half-hearted when I first got involved and then it steam rolled into my passion. The more I did – speech contests, showing livestock, judging livestock – the more time I invested, the leadership positions followed and formed me into the leader and person I am today,” she said with a smile.
Grace served her chapter as assistant vice president her sophomore year, and as president her junior and senior years. She was area secretary her senior year and now as a freshman in college she is serving as state vice president.
“I wanted to serve as a state officer, but I was scared to make the commitment,” she said. “It was a last minute decision but one I am so happy I made. It is a way to give back to the area and chapter that did so much for me,” she explained.
Her SAE project is diversified livestock – beef and goats – and her herd is still growing.
“Overall, our family runs a commercial cow/calf operation but we also have 23 head of registered Red and black Angus and nine head of Boer goats,” Grace said. “As part of my SAE, I utilized exchange of labor hours, working on the farm doing what a farm kid does – helping hay, feed and upkeep of the fences,” she said. “When I joined FFA, I started getting more involved directly in the cattle operation.”
Grace decided to run for state office and was one of 25 members from across the state to participate.
“Generally, there are two candidates from each area who participate in a two-day interview process before the State FFA Convention, which is held in April,” she explained. “It’s a high-stress, high-intensity event, but very fulfilling.”
At the end of the two days, those selected are announced so FFA members know if they made the state team or not.
“The officers aren’t announced until the state convention on the stage,” she added. “So that part still includes some anxiety, wondering if you were chosen as one of the top three leadership positions.”
As a freshman at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo., Grace is pursuing a double major in agricultural education and agricultural communications.
“I have not always been a huge fan of school,” Grace chuckled. “But I want to come back to the area and teach ag knowing that communications is a very vital part of being able to advocate successfully for agriculture. All parts of knowledge are important, but if you can’t communicate to those who don’t know about agriculture, having the knowledge isn’t as impressive. Communications is the key to all aspects of life, not just agriculture.
“I plan to become more involved in activities on campus such as Collegiate Cattlemen’s, Block and Bridle, and ACT (Ag Communicators of Tomorrow),” Grace explained.
Family, friends and advisors rank in Grace’s top mentor categories.
“My first day of FFA, was terrifying, but once I got more involved and realized how they were pushing me to be better, it was so fulfilling,” she said. “From the struggling farmer who took the time to talk to me about agriculture to my parents/family who encouraged me to joined FFA, they were all helping me become a better person and leader.
Grace is the daughter of Dennis and Sharlyn Doss and has two sisters, Macie (15) and Dixie (5).
“I think Macie thinks its kind of cool to have a sister who is a State FFA Officer. Dixie just knows I have another FFA Jacket with a gold chain,” Grace grinned.
She had four advisors during her time in West Plains FFA. “Mr. (Jay) Hale and Mrs. (Tonya) Jedlicka where the two main advisors who encouraged me during my FFA time,” Grace explained. “Mr. (Grant) Talburt was an advisor my Freshman year and Ms. (Sarah) Elrod was also an advisor while I was in high school.”
Participating in livestock judging with a team who made it to state, being on the horse judging team her junior year and making it to state competition and finishing fourth, being on the training team for dairy foods and giving two state speeches all helped Grace grow into the leader she is today. “In some of my speeches now, I tell of a time I failed successfully,” she recalled. “It was the second time I was giving a speech on Teach Ag. I made districts and in the middle of the speech, I went completely blank. As I reached into my pocket to get my note cards, them pulled them out and they flung forward all over the floor. It was embarrassing, but how I handled myself and came back from that moment, still got me second in the contest. So it’s not always about winning, but about how you handle yourself on the way there.
“FFA is not like anything you’ve ever experienced,” explained Grace. “It’s hands-on, listening, made for everyone, so different than anything you’ve ever faced and it is scary,” she added. “It is so hard to describe because you don’t know what you’re missing until you know! Looking back you realize how much you have grown and changed and it honestly is never bad. It really does change your life,” she said with a smile.