ANNA — The Ohio state FFA’s newest vice president is a local girl from Anna.
Mary Buehler, 18, has been a member of FAA since she was a freshman in high school. She just graduated from Anna High School and is on to study agribusiness and applied economics at The Ohio State University in the fall.
“I have always been interested in agriculture since my family has a strong rural background. I joined FFA because I was excited to learn more about my passion of agriculture and desired to be apart of something bigger than myself,” Buehler said.
She has served as the Anna FFA treasurer and president. She received her state degree in 2014, competed in several Career Development Events (CDEs) at the state level and was a state proficiency finalist last year. The week before State FFA Convention this spring, she retired after serving two terms as the Ohio FCCLA State President.
In her new position as state vice president, she will be able to serve the organization that has transformed her into the professional young adult she is today, she said.
“During this year of service I will further develop my own leadership skills in the process of assisting members to improve upon their own leadership abilities. My mission is to inspire others to be courageous and to step out of their comfort zones because these are two things that I am personally struggling with/working on,” Buehler said.
She became vice president after a long process of interviews and applications. She attended a practice interview in early March and then in the first week of April she had to commit to run and send in her application.
After applying, the 47 candidates went through a multi-phased interview. The interview included a general interview, an extemporaneous speech, an impromptu scenario, a “Why I Desire to Serve” interview, a written exercise and a written exam.
The individuals with the highest scores from the interviews were slated on the ballot that was announced on the first day of State FFA Convention.
Immediately after, the candidates were given a a few minutes to prepare a 2-minute speech based off of a prompt they received on the spot. During this time votes were cast. On the Friday of state convention, the results were announced and new officers were inducted.
During the first week of June she attended Blast Off training run by the national FFA. This training helps newly elected state officers identify their strengths, develop several personal growth/ management skills and several other skills that will be vital to our year of service.
“Blast Off has left a strong impact on me. A great deal of team bonding occurred, goals were set for the year, we all learned about ourselves and we developed several new skills,” Buehler said.
She was inspired to participate in FFA by older siblings and the majority of her cousins. She watched them participate when she was young and was intrigued by what she saw.
In her “Why I Desire To Serve As An Ohio FFA Officer” speech she cited the exact moment she knew she was going to strive to be a state FFA officer. It was when she was at the 2006 state convention watching her brother.
“On that Saturday nine years ago, immediately following the state president’s retiring address, I leaned over to my mother and whispered, ‘Mom, I’m going to be one of those people some day!’ Many would brush that statement off as merely children’s nonsense but it has been lingering in my mind ever since,” Buehler said. “The opportunity to serve in such a capacity that would positively impact such a large group of youth quickly became one of my most desired goals.”
Mentors during her first two years in FFA encouraged and motivated her to become very active. She refers to one mentor specifically who she watched in a state position and inevitably helped inspire her to apply.
“He made me realize that even though we come from a small rural community in little ol’ Shelby County, we can still do great things. Watching his year of service was empowering,” Buehler said.
Her advisers Sarah Heilers and Tim Zimpfer were also very supportive and would come in before or after school to talk through things with her, practice, share information and whatever they could do to prepare her.
Heilers said she sees very few students as driven as Buehler.
Buehler points to her former adviser Michelle Brunson playing a key role as well.
“She was my adviser my freshman and sophomore year … She contributed to the development of several of my hard and soft skills such as public speaking. Also, prior to interviews, I talked over some logistics to get her opinion as well,” she said.
Buehler sells sweet corn at a road side stand in McCartyville for one of her projects. She said all the customers and people who help her are some of her biggest supporters as well.
“A family friend lets me rent land to grow the sweet corn and several community members help pick the corn and maintain the stand each year. These individuals have taught me a great deal about humility, selflessness and generosity,” she said.
Heilers called this project very unique and said it shows Buehler is a true leader.
She also said her family is known for being among the top fruit sellers each year for one of the main fundraisers the Anna FFA does.
“Through selling fruit, I build several relationships with community members that otherwise I would not interact with. Even though they don’t know much about me and we only see each other about twice a year, they are very strong supporters and encourage me to pursue my dreams,” Buehler said.
She said her family helps her out a great deal too. Always listening to her say the same speech over and over again. They review what she writes and provide feedback too.
“My parents and advisors provide the constructive criticism that I need to to further develop personally, professionally and as a leader,” Buehler said.
She points to her biggest strength being her drive.
“I’m driven by my goals, values and passions. Because my drive comes from such powerful aspects of life, it motivates me to take the initiative to do my best and strive for success,” Buehler said.
One of her favorite quotes is, “Someone once told me not to bite off more than I could chew. I said I’d rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocrity.”
She said her biggest weakness is also her biggest strength. Being over-involved or stretching herself too thin can be a problem of hers, but she loves it.
“I see it occasionally but I don’t mind all the stress because I love being active in leadership organizations,” Buehler said.