Washington FFA vice president Lauren Stubbs is one of five FFA members nationwide to be selected as a presidential scholar for career and technical education.

The presidential scholars program was established in 1964 to recognize some of the nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors.

Each year, up to 161 students are selected as presidential scholars, considered one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

Lisa Baser, Stubbs' agricultural teacher with LaCrosse FFA, nominated her, and state superintendent Chris Reykdal selected her and other students as candidates for the award.

"It's a really big honor, just because the pool of candidates that came from Washington state alone had to be selected by Superintendent Reykdal," she said. "Little old me from small town LaCrosse, Wash., had an application that stood out."

For the essays required as part of her application, Stubbs drew on her experiences growing up on her family's farm and in FFA.

Applicants had to submit a photo with an essay. Stubbs sent in a picture of a Boer goat kids she raised and sold as part of an FFA project.

She said she wrote about the hardships that go along with raising livestock and being a farmer.

"Not everything is easy and goes the way we planned," she said. "That was a piece I was really proud of."

Ordinarily, being a presidential scholar would have included a visit to the White House in mid-June. Stubbs would have gotten to network with other presidential scholars, politicians and industry leaders.

Stubbs spoke to the Capital Press while helping her family with wheat harvest.

"That's the beautiful thing about ag — we've got to keep going, the crops wait for no one," she said. "As a farmer, as a worker on our farm, everything is normal."

FFA is more up in the air, she said, with the uncertainty of the coming school year under the COVID-19 concerns.

"It's scary and kind of frustrating at times," she said. 

The state officers will likely connect with members virtually at first, she said. Activities are planned, although the hope is to eventually interact in-person.

"We don't want to be seen as just six state officers who are there, who are figureheads," she said. "We want to be out meeting students."

Because of the strangeness of the year, Stubbs is able to pursue college online alongside her duties as state officer. She's enrolled at  Washington State University and wants to become an agriculture education teacher.

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