COVINGTON — As the saying goes, “go big, or go home.” Covington High School senior Zach Hasting decided to go big at the National FFA convention in Louisville, Kentucky, recently.
Hasting won the national title in agricultural mechanics repair and maintenance entrepreneurship for his 1951 CASE Model DC4 tractor that he completely restored, and he went on quite a journey to get that far.
Hasting submitted a 26-page application for his project at the district level; his highly scored application got him to state. Having the highest score for his application and interview, yet again, at the state level, Hasting’s project took him to nationals, where he was announced as the winner in his category on stage in front of more than 60,000 other FFA members.
“It’s a big honor,” Hasting said. “It was a big honor to represent Covington High School because myself, Jese Shell, and some of our friends helped get FFA started up again. I was fortunate to be able to win at nationals, but it wouldn’t have been possible without all of the other kids involved in FFA.”
At national level, applications are graded on a point system and are rated as gold, silver, or bronze. Hasting’s application was one of the few that received a gold rating.
The four finalists were interviewed together by eight judges and each gave a two-minute introduction about themselves and talked about their project and future plans. Hasting was then interviewed alone for 15 minutes.
“I really wasn’t nervous at all,” Hasting said of his final interview. “I had prepared so well for this. I’ve made presentations on this project so many times that I knew it inside and out. It really wasn’t that big of a deal to do it again.”
Hasting’s FFA Adviser Jessica Helsinger said every FFA student is required to participate in a Supervised Agricultural Experience, where they take on an individualized project that has to be hands-on, and learning something about agriculture – Hasting’s project was a result of that.
Heslinger stated how Hasting’s accomplishment positively impacts the school and community.
“People are just now realizing that we have a FFA program, this is going to bring even more awareness to that,” Helsinger said. “This is beyond the classroom … this is why (agricultural) education is so important, so hopefully with the success of Zach’s project, they can learn what the program can do for their district.”
For approximately 30 years, Covington did not have an FFA chapter. With the help of the satellite program and the efforts of Hasting, Helsinger, and other students studying agriculture at CHS, a new chapter was written.
“They (FFA students) have decided what the Covington FFA looks like. They have all worked to make those defining efforts to make us who we are today,” Helsinger said. “Zach, in the future, wants to be an agriculture education teacher. If we haven’t started the program, that wouldn’t be a career field he wouldn’t know about, he is definitely going to take this knowledge and pass it on.”
“This is what I want to do with my life,” Hasting said. “I want to go to school for agricultural education and ultimately, teach in the mechanical field. I’d like to have an impact on other kids who have the same passion I have. If this (winning a national championship) can help make that happen, than that’s even better.”
Reach reporter Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall.