Leading the nation’s largest student-run organization. Check.

Traveling to 40 states and South Africa in one year. Check.

Meeting the U.S. president, secretary of agriculture, and governor of Virginia. Triple check.

After a bucket list year as full-time president of the FFA, the youth leadership development organization of 945,000 members, Andrew Seibel is rediscovering what it means to be a college student.

He’s back at Virginia Tech, having resumed his junior year in January as an agribusiness major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

“It’s definitely good to have a routine again and see my friends on a consistent basis,” he said. “Thanks to my time as FFA president, I have a little more pep in my step. I’m trying to pace back a bit.”

During his year-long term, Seibel spent 300 days on the road, speaking at schools and conventions, meeting with FFA chapters, holding leadership workshops, visiting farms and industry leaders, and serving on the FFA’s board of directors.

In November, he gave a farewell address to thousands of participants in the FFA’s national convention to tears and hugs, retired the blue FFA jacket he’s worn since 2013, and headed home to Virginia.

“It was a whirlwind, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” he said. “It was such a special experience. I try not to take it for granted.”

Seibel was the 13th national officer from Virginia and the fifth to become president since the FFA was founded at Virginia Tech in 1925. He was selected through a highly competitive process to lead the organization’s 9,163 chapters in making a positive difference in the lives of students by promoting leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. 

“I wanted to create a place of community for FFA members,” he said. “I wanted it to be a place where they felt like they could succeed, excel, and find a family outside of their home life.”

Two men and a woman stand together on stage, holding up award plaques and smiling.
Seibel (at center) stands with his parents, Andy and Megan, who are both employees of Virginia Tech. They were honored with Honorary American FFA degrees in a ceremony during the national convention. Photo courtesy of FFA.

The FFA was pivotal in Seibel’s life long before he was old enough to join. Growing up on a third-generation beef cattle farm, he tagged along with his dad, Virginia FFA chief executive Andy Seibel, to conventions, and watched his two older sisters win FFA competitions and become national FFA officers. His mother, Megan Seibel, who is the director of the Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR) program at Virginia Tech, served as Virginia’s deputy secretary of agriculture and forestry from 2016-18.

Through his own involvement and friendships in FFA, Seibel grew into a leader.

“I was that kid that was shaking when I had to introduce myself in class,” he said. “But I knew that public speaking was necessary for me to spread the message I wanted to have for FFA members. I’m glad I was able to overcome that hurdle.”

Seibel had a simple mission for his presidency. He wanted to connect with FFA members on a personal level to reinforce their sense of belonging, value, and potential. Some of his favorite moments were the conversations he had with FFA members over dinner or ice cream.

“It was incredible to be able to go around the country and have people take care of me and welcome me into their homes,” he said. “I’m hopeful that I was able to take what could have been an ordinary moment for students and make it into something special. Those small interactions can have a really big impact. You never know, I might have interacted with a future officer or someone who’s going to do something really special. I feel like I helped students feel valued and seen where they are. To be a small part of their stories is humbling beyond belief.”

Seibel said he’s “still processing” the job and what it might mean for his future. For the time being, he’s focused on being a student in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics and attending as many Hokie basketball and football games as he can in the year ahead.

“This year I made so many deep connections I realized that whatever that future may be, I’m going to have it within the agricultural industry and there are a lot of opportunities out there,” he said. “FFA makes such a positive impact on students. I want to continue to be involved in some way.”

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