GETTYSBURG, SD – In 2020, Hunter Eide was elected to serve as the South Dakota State FFA Secretary. Together with his teammates, Eide represented and served more than 4,800 FFA members from 99 schools across South Dakota.
In celebration of FFA week, Feb. 19-26, South Dakota Farmers Union sat down with Eide, who is also a Farmers Union member and a fifth-generation Gettysburg cattle producer to learn about his year of service and how FFA prepared him for the next chapters in his life.
Q: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a unique year for most. How did your State FFA Officer year go?
Hunter Eide: Overall it was a fantastic experience. I encourage any young person looking to grow as an individual and pay it forward to the next generation of agriculturalists, to consider applying to serve as a state FFA officer.
It was different than most years due to COVID-19. Typically, our team would have met in person with all 99 FFA chapters across the state, hosted State Leadership Retreat, and attended National Convention. We did do some in-person visits, but in most cases, we had to adapt and do virtual events. We were fortunate enough to advocate at the South Dakota State Fair and lead district officer trainings in-person.
We also had a one-of-a-kind experience for State Convention. We made history by hosting it in Rapid City, instead at South Dakota State University, breaking a 92-year tradition. Many states were not as fortunate to be in person and it was an opportunity to make history!
Q: Tell us more about the Rapid City State FFA Convention.
Hunter Eide: I want to start off by saying, South Dakota FFA truly values South Dakota State University and the long tradition of hosting convention on campus and is headed back there in 2022. Due to the pandemic, SDSU restricted outside events in the spring of 2021. The FFA board of directors looked for alternatives to best suit the needs of members and provide an in-person learning experience. Thinking outside the norm, Rapid City provided a solution to having a safe experience.
Thanks to the efforts of many longtime volunteers and organizations as well as new ones with the changed location, the 2021 State FFA Convention held in Rapid City in April 2021 was truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
We worked with Western Dakota Tech and the Central States Fairgrounds to host all the events.
Hosting in Rapid City also provided a unique experience for members in western South Dakota who typically must travel great distances to attend convention, and gave many eastern South Dakota chapters an opportunity to travel.
Q: Tell us about your career goals and how FFA helped prepare you for college.
Hunter Eide: My goal is to become a family practice physician and practice in a rural community. Rural healthcare became my career goal one summer when I was working on my grandpa Eugene Nagel’s farm. That summer Grandpa had some severe health issues. Through the many appointments he had with our local doctor, I realized the important role rural healthcare providers have. It was extremely valuable and comforting that my grandpa could receive some of his care in Gettysburg and then go back to the farm later that afternoon.
The experiences I had through FFA have helped me grow as a leader and develop strong communication skills. For example, my agriscience project sparked my passion for sciences and improved my ability to interview and share my knowledge. Knowing how to convey scientific information to someone without that background will be incredibly useful as a physician. This is just one specific way FFA’s impact is long lasting and can happen in unexpected ways.
Although my career path is not directly an ag-related career, I have grown in appreciation of all agriculture careers and will advocate for them in my personal and professional life. In addition, balancing the duties of a state FFA officer with the work of a full-time college student taught me a lot about time management. And time management is key to success in college and so many areas of life.
Q: After serving as a state FFA officer, is your FFA career over?
Hunter Eide: This past October, I received my American Degree and ran for National FFA Office. It was a great experience to learn more about agriculture, leadership and myself, but I was not selected. I continue to push myself and am open to the opportunity of running again in 2022. No matter what, I want to stay involved by continuing to give back by volunteering as a judge, coach or mentor, helping FFA members reach their full potential.