Ashley McLeod, Laurel Hill School, Wins State FFA Competition

Ashley McLeod, a senior at Laurel Hill School, was recognized at the September 10 School Board meeting for her accomplishments at the Future Farmers of America (FFA) State Convention.

McLeod placed first in the Senior Prepared Public Speaking competition and placed fourth place in the Senior Extemporaneous Public Speaking competition.

“She is a very well spoken lady,” said Deputy Superintendant, Rodney Nobles. “I am extremely proud of her and her outlook for education and what she will accomplish in the future.”

Jerry Gregory, the Agriculture teacher at Laurel Hill School, has guided McLeod through most of her FFA competitions.

“This is Ashley’s fourth straight competition at the State level and she has never finished out of the top five,” said Gregory.

“Mr. Gregory and the FFA have been behind her 100%,” said Susan Lowery, Laurel Hill School Principal. “But, she has really done it herself with the help of her family. It takes that kind of determination to get where she is today. She is so humble about it. She has had plenty of practice around school and is a natural. She does an expert job no matter what it is. She has such a grace about her.”

“It is amazing the things that she has done over the years she has been at Laurel Hill School,” said School Board member, Cathy Thigpen. “You have a ‘never give up attitude’ and I love that about you and the recognition that you are bringing to Laurel Hill School. They are proud and we are proud too.”

“Coming from a senior class of a little over thirty students, opportunities weren’t exactly around every corner,” McLeod told the School Board members. “However, through the past six years, I have had the opportunity to travel all over the state of Florida and visit different parts of the country. I have developed meaningful relationships with people from all over the United States. I have developed leadership skills as well as a sincere passion for the agricultural community. All thanks to my involvement in the FFA. My speech topic I took to Nationals talked about budget cuts in the Agricultural Education program and how it will affect us all in the future. As School Board members and leaders of our community, you have the chance to give this opportunity to students across the county. We need your help. I joined the FFA as a young girl with permed hair, braces, and no idea where my future would take me. However, I have grown into a confident, state-winning speaker, with big hair and even bigger dreams. Thank you all!”

When asked what she does to prepare herself to give a speech, McLeod laughed and said, “definitely a lot of practice.” She also shared that practicing in front of a mirror has helped her get more comfortable speaking in public.

McLeod joined the FFA in seventh grade and is currently serving as the FFA District I President.

“She is well known all across the state,” said Lowery. “She has networked across the state and has done a lot of things to bring distinction back to our school and our county.”

McLeod will compete in the National FFA competition later this month in Indianapolis, Indiana.

For more information on the Future Farmers of America, visit

Ashley McLeod is pictured above with the 2011-2012 Florida
FFA State President, Charlie Brown, Jr., and her father (and
advisor on stage), David McLeod.