North Buncombe's Creed Speaker
North Buncombe's Creed Speaker
Posted on 09/18/2018
Emma Brown is the North Carolina FFA Creed Speaking champion.Photos/Article By: Benjamin Rickert, Communications Dept.

Emma Brown wasn’t sure what to expect when she stepped onto the stage in front of more than 2,200 onlookers. With her heart pounding, she took her place next to the three other capable competitors.

It was the 90th annual North Carolina Future Farmers of America (FFA) Convention on June 20, and the ninth-grader of North Buncombe High was one of four state finalists for the FFA Creed Speaking event, a long-time tradition in which students memorized the intricate five paragraph creed of the agricultural community. The state’s 25 best had already been reduced to four, and the hall fell silent as the judges prepared to announce a new state champion.

Emma Brown of North Buncombe High School.Earlier that year, Emma’s FFA advisors, Mr. Justin Gillespie and Mr. Dave Penland, challenged her to compete at the regional level with one catch: the competition was only three days away. Her training had to be aggressive. So, for three solid days, Emma spent all of her time outside of class reciting the Creed, considering its relevance in her life, and answering questions posed by her advisors, friends, and family members. She explained that during those days, whatever she was doing from morning until night, she was also reciting the Creed.

Emma had no trouble relating to the words of the Creed as she spoke them aloud. All her life, she had helped with her family’s farm, riding horses and raising cattle. So, when she recited, “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds,” she meant it. Emma had hands-on experience with many of the “joys and discomforts of agricultural life” and was proud of her family’s resilience over the years. She was nervous to speak in front of strangers, but felt she had something special to offer when she agreed to the regional competition. Emma was thrilled to place second, qualifying her for the state championship.

“In 2018, the Creed Speaking presentation is perhaps more important than ever,” said Mr. Gillespie. “Leadership development is one of the core components of our FFA and agricultural education program… And this event helps students work on their communications skills, personal presentation, and public speaking. If we can develop these skills in our students, it’s going to make them much more successful in interviews and industry, regardless of their field. It gives them a leg up.”

In Raleigh, the state Creed Speaking competition was held in two rounds. Contestants passionately recited the FFA Creed to a panel and then had to think quickly to answer a number of questions about the agricultural industry, history, technology, and the Creed’s relevance today. Brown quickly progressed and found herself a top four finalist! It was from these final four that the state champion would be named, but the competitors and all in attendance had to wait until the next day for the decision to be announced in front of everyone attending the conference. There was nothing Emma could do but anxiously wait, and she resolved that even if she didn’t win, she was “incredibly honored to be named” a finalist.

“The next morning, all four of the top creed speakers were there in the convention hall with their advisors,” recalled Mr. Gillespie, “And we knew one of them was about to be named and would then have to say the Creed on the big stage in front of everybody!”

Emma Brown on the cattle ranch with Mr. Gillespie's class.The four finalists lined up on the stage in front of hundreds of peers and industry leaders. The judges announced their rankings starting with fourth place, after which each runner-up was instructed to exit the stage. After third place was announced, Emma still hadn’t heard her name. Then second place was announced, and she quickly found herself standing alone on the stage to thundering applause.

“I was so nervous that night before and all morning,” laughed Emma, thinking back to that day. “I wanted to be prepared for that moment, but didn’t want to get my hopes up! It was very exciting after so much hard work put into it.”

Emma Brown was named the Creed Speaking state champion of the 90th North Carolina FFA Convention. Emma couldn’t smile any bigger as she paused and took a deep breath, ready to share her community’s Creed.

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Emma Brown is currently preparing for the national competition that will be held in Indianapolis on October 24. There, she’ll compete against each state’s Creed Speaking champion, plus a representative from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Read the FFA's official press release (PDF).

Learn more about the FFA Creed and it’s history, as well as FFA / Agricultural Education at North Buncombe High.
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