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HomeAt Home & BeyondRick Ahrens Inducted into Florida FFA Hall of Fame

Rick Ahrens Inducted into Florida FFA Hall of Fame

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On the last Tuesday of the year, the Florida FFA (Future Farmers of America) Foundation announced their selections for the 2024 Florida FFA Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame was started in 2007 to honor those who have helped make the youth leadership organization one of the best of its kind in the state of Florida. The press release detailing the inductees included Rick Ahrens, Wayne Clark, John Davidson, Ricky and Louisa Lyons, and Rickey Odom. As he was preparing to retire in 2022, the Sun delved into the career of the first of these inductees, Rick Ahrens. The retired local educator has left an impact on many throughout his tenure including Dr. Lauren Taylor of Three Oaks Veterinary Services.

“I learned a lot from Mr. Ahrens,” said Dr. Taylor. “He was the first teacher that held me to a higher standard. He Inspired independent learning and allowed his students to fail and learn life lessons safely under his guidance. He pushed me harder than any other teacher did and made it seem like it was my idea to do so. He recognized the potential in his students and nurtured their confidence to achieve their goals.”

An educator for over 40 years, he spent much of his time teaching as the Brooksville Sr. FFA Chapter Advisor and Agriscience/Veterinary Assistant Teacher at Hernando High School. During Ahrens’ tenure, the release stated, more than 70 members placed in the National FFA Agriscience Fair with 20 State Stars Finalists and 10 State Stars. These finalists largely placed in the field of Agriscience. Ahrens’ Brooksville chapter was also named a National FFA top 10 Finalist in the National Chapter Award Programs a staggering 20 times.

During that time, he helped develop his local chapter into a nationally recognized chapter in the areas of Agriscience and National Chapter Award Programs. As a result, he received many honors including Florida’s FFA Advisor of the Year for 2020, Hernando County Teacher of the Year, and was recognized with the Honorary American FFA Degree. It is not about the awards, though, for the long-time educator it is about the students he has helped throughout his tenure.

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“I moved to this town from the suburbs of New York with the aspirations of becoming a veterinarian,” Dr. Taylor said. “When I found out there was an agriculture class that involved livestock handling, care, and show, I knew I had to be a part of it. I didn’t fit in right away and stood out like a sore thumb… Mr. Ahrens inspired me to catch up to the other students and prove to my classmates, parents, and myself that anything you set your mind to do can and will be achieved with hard work and dedication. By the end of my senior year, I was ready for anything with the principles I had learned from FFA and Mr. Ahrens. He was truly a mentor and, to this day, a dear friend. I will forever remember the laughs, triumphs, and lessons learned in that agriculture classroom and barns with Mr. Ahrens.”

Ahrens, the five accompanying inductees, and other such educators have helped the Florida FFA grow to a mammoth 70,000 members across the 350-plus chapters that span the state. The Florida FFA Association has over 26,000 middle and high school students as members across its state-wide chapters and its members take part in roughly 50 leadership and career development functions every year. As the organization’s various members take part in a host of agricultural education activities, this has led to over 300 career opportunities in the agricultural industry.

The official induction ceremony for the Florida FFA Hall of Fame is set to take place during the 96th Florida FFA State Convention & Expo. For those interested in learning more about the Florida FFA or agricultural education, the organization encourages people to visit their website, floridaffa.org.

“Agricultural education prepares students for successful careers and a lifetime of informed choices in the global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resource systems,” the press release stated. “FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.”

Brooksville Sr. FFA banner. [Credit: Courtesy of Rick Ahrens]
Brooksville Sr. FFA banner. [Credit: Courtesy of Rick Ahrens]
Students gave Mr. Ahrens this gift in appreciation of the lessons he taught them. [Credit: Courtesy of Rick Ahrens]
Students gave Mr. Ahrens this gift in appreciation of the lessons he taught them. [Credit: Courtesy of Rick Ahrens]

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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