Mikeila Sanders was awarded her FFA American Degree at the national convention in October.

Sanders Earns American Degree

10:56 AM November 08, 2018


Mikeila Sanders said she did not know FFA was a thing as a freshman in high school until two friends brought her to a meeting. During that meeting her organizational skills earned her the office of secretary and from that point on she was involved in every way possible with the organization. “It was my life, I lived for it,” said Sanders. Her love affair with FFA culminated a few weeks ago as she earned the highest award members can receive; The American Degree.


A 2016 graduate of Prophetstown High School, Sanders also graduated from Blackhawk East in May of this year with  Associates Degrees in animal science and beef and swine production. She currently is the office manager of The Butcher Shop located in Rock Falls. Sanders is contemplating further schooling in the veterinarian sciences area, but for now is taking a breather from school.


Mikeila’s road to the FFA American Degree began her freshman year as she was awarded the "Star" Green Hand award, which signified her exemplary work as a first year FFA member. She continued to accumulate awards during her high school career, which culminated with her earning another distinctive honor, a state degree, during her senior year.

(l-r) FFA  Advisor Sam Perschnick,
Sanders, Sara Conner


Sanders remembered, “At the end of my freshman year I knew I wanted to be the best. That was my mentality, I wanted to go as far as possible. Those were big dreams for a little freshman in high school.” Sanders said her plans then included becoming an Ag instructor and being a mentor to other FFA members. Current PHS Ag instructor and FFA advisor Sara Conner had a big impact on Sanders. “I couldn’t have ever dreamed of this happening if not for Miss Conner,” said Sanders.


When asked about Sanders Conner said, “Mikeila was always a highly motivated student. I knew it from the first time she walked into my classroom. She set this goal for herself as a freshman and worked for years to accomplish it. It shows great determination and dedication to achieve the American Degree and I couldn't be more proud of her for achieving it and setting a high standard for future members.”


The American Degree is the culmination of years of intricate record-keeping of work hours and money earned in the agricultural field. Sanders said it’s very difficult for most members to earn the degree due to the time requirements involved for post high school students.


In order to receive the FFA American Degree you must have earned a state degree, remain active in the organization, attain the required classroom hours in an Ag education program, document and earn required amounts of hours and income outside of the classroom, a C average in all courses and 50 hours of community service.


Sanders completed the application last spring and then went through the interview process in April in Springfield. She was notified in early summer that she had been awarded the degree. Sanders received her honor during the National FFA Convention, her seventh, which was held in Indianapolis in October. Under 1% of all FFA members meet the qualifications and are awarded an American Degree. This year’s class numbered 4,262 with 135 coming from the state of Illinois.


When asked how she felt about receiving the degree she responded, “It was rough honestly, it’s bittersweet because it’s over.” She is a member of the PLT alumni FFA chapter and hopes to become more involved in the future with helping to mentor students.


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