Presidential Scholars Program expands to include career and technical education; FFA members and advisors recognized

Farm Forum

INDIANAPOLIS – As part of an executive order by President Barack Obama, career and technical education students will now be able to be designated as U.S. Presidential Scholars.

Established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, the Presidential Scholars Program has honored almost 7,000 of America’s top-performing students. The program was expanded in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. Each year, the program recognizes two high school seniors from each state and 15 scholars at-large on the basis of excellence in scholarship. An additional 20 scholars are selected for exceptional talent in the arts.

The Presidential Scholars program is overseen by the Commission on Presidential Scholars and administered by staff at the U.S. Department of Education. This commission, appointed by President Obama, selects honored scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

“We are extremely honored by this decision,” National FFA Advisor Dr. Steve Brown said. “This action elevates the value and importance of career and technical education where agricultural education plays a key role.”

Next year, the White House will welcome the inaugural class of 20 CTE Presidential Scholars, who will be selected by the Commission on Presidential Scholars based on outstanding scholarship and demonstrated ability in career and technical education.

On June 30, First Lady Michelle Obama recognized outstanding students, teachers and administrators who have shown exceptional leadership in driving innovation in the field of career and technical education. Representing FFA were CTE Innovators Catherine Cincotta, a former student from North Burlington High School, N.J.; Whitney Bowman, currently a student at Virginia Tech; and FFA advisor and CTE Innovator Tyler Pope of Buckeye Central High School in New Washington, Ohio. In addition, FFA was represented by Tony Rice, former Pennsylvania state FFA officer, and Lauren Fillebrown, former state officer for New Jersey. Nan Hamilton, who is Cincotta’s FFA advisor, also participated and provided exhibits for the event.