Oklahoman brings home national FFA award in agriculture placement

Whitney Glazier was named the 2023 American Star in Agricultural Placement at the 96th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Journal photo by Lacey Vilhauer.)

“Without labor, neither knowledge nor wisdom can accomplish much.” This is a well-known excerpt from the FFA opening ceremonies script. Fifth-generation farmer Whitney Glazier of the Lomega, Oklahoma, FFA Chapter, can attest to its accuracy.

In October 2023, Whitney, an Oklahoma State University senior studying animal science, was named the 2023 American Star in Agricultural Placement at the 96th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. This honor is awarded to the FFA member with the top agricultural placement supervised agricultural experience in the nation. According to the National FFA Association, the recipient must demonstrate outstanding achievement, active FFA participation and an excellent scholastic record.

There are three other American Star awards given at the national level: American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agriscience and American Star Farmer. “Being able to bring home one of the four most prestigious awards a person can win within the National FFA Association is still so completely surreal and such an honor,” she said. “To be able to win the award when I was up against three equally deserving young men makes it even more special. I proved that anything a man could do I could do just as good, if not better. I think this goes to show for all the young girls who are involved in Oklahoma’s agriculture industry that you never let anyone tell you what you are capable of because when you put in the work, the sky is the limit.”

Whitney’s SAE project included three areas of work placement including hours put in on her family’s farm; two years of employment at a local veterinary clinic and a part-time job at the OSU Agronomy Research Station. As an FFA member, she showed hogs and cattle, participated in speech contests, was a member of the quiz bowl team and judged livestock.

“I’ve learned to never stop working because even though it may seem like your goals are far off or out of reach, nothing’s out of reach if you keep pushing yourself to be the best you can be and continue to work towards that goal,” Whitney said. “Every little thing you’re doing and working toward will ultimately bring you toward that goal.”

A bittersweet achievement

Whitney said she set a goal to become an American Star when she was in the eighth grade. She knew it was attainable, but the goal would be difficult to achieve.

“It’s just so competitive,” she explained. “I was afraid to truly let myself have real hope that it was going to happen because I didn’t want to get completely crushed. I always joke that it was my dad’s master plan to one day make me an American Star and well, it turned out.”

However, receiving this prestigious honor was a mix of joy and heartache for Whitney, as her father, Dale, who was an agricultural education instructor for 20 years, passed away in June 2023. It was only one month later that she received news she was selected as a national finalist for the American Star awards. The revelation was a dream come true, but also a bitter pill to swallow.

“The first thing that went through my head was, ‘Daddy, we did it,’ because he had this whole plan laid out for how it would work and how it all fit together,” she said. “It’s not fair that he’s not here to get to see it. It’s been really fun and rewarding, but then I have very conflicting emotions because of everything that’s happened.”

Glazier’s mother, Lori, was on the national convention stage with her daughter and the Lomega FFA advisor, Megan Mueggenborg, as Whitney’s name was announced as a national winner.

“I could barely stand up because my knees were shaking so bad,” Lori explained. “I really couldn’t believe it. We did it. Dale did it. I know he’s here with us and he’s watching because he’s been a part of every single detail up to this point.”

Lori said Dale’s influence made a significant impact on both Whitney and her sister, Rylee. He imparted in them the value of hard work and dedication to completing a task.

“At the time, they probably didn’t realize that’s what was happening, but he always instilled in them that they we’re going to work until the job is done,” Lori said.

Lori also praised the small community they live in and the support the Glazier family has received since Dale’s passing.

“None of this would really be possible without our extended family and the Omega community as a whole,” she said. “The support we’ve had over the last five months has just been tremendous with just the sense of community and love from the agriculture industry.”

A bright future

Just like so many other FFA members who have gained knowledge and experience through FFA projects, Whitney’s SAE projects and accumulated work experience have prepared her for a future career as a veterinarian. The two years she worked at a veterinary clinic solidified her desire to work with animals—she plans to open a clinic after vet school and specialize in large animal medicine. However, the

FFA has not only given her a strong foothold in her career path, it has also molded Whitney into the poised young woman that is prepared to handle any challenge thrown her way.

“She’s just blossomed into a confident person now that is not afraid to say what she thinks or what’s on her heart,” Lori explained. “She can stand on her own because of what Dale made her into.”

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For Whitney, her background growing up in a rural farm community and being involved in FFA has given her all the tools to be successful and she hopes to inspire other FFA members to pursue their passions, even if they are unorthodox or there is a chance of falling short.

“I would hope to show through my actions and accomplishments that it’s ok to get your hands dirty,” Whitney said. “That it’s ok to not want to follow the world’s standards and go against the norm. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try new things or learn a new skill that can make you a more valuable asset. Taking on the jobs or roles that have historically been male-dominated fields is not easy, but it is rewarding.”

Lacey Vilhauer can be reached at 620-227-1871 or [email protected].