ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Every teacher wants a student like Jackie Klenda, who personifies the very meaning of “student.”
“Jackie represents the future of Centre FFA,” said Cary Granzow, FFA instructor at Centre High School. “She’s the kind of student who’s taken advantage of the opportunities early in her FFA career.”
Klenda is a freshman at Centre, but has already become a leader in the FFA program.
The program runs in the family. Klenda is the fifth member of her family to be a Centre FFA member.
“FFA was something all my brothers and my sister did, and they always came home from activities with smiles on their faces,” Klenda said. “They always told me about all the fun things they got to do in FFA.”
“I knew that I wanted to have the same opportunities they had.”
Klenda seems intent on making the most of the opportunities.
“We had a freshman ‘Par-Law’ team and we got first at district,” Klenda said. “I also did ‘creed speaking’ and took first at the district level, so I qualified for state.”
Winning state would mean a trip to the national competition.
Klenda said she ran for a district FFA office as a freshman, “just to get the experience.”
Klenda’s has demonstrated herknowledge of livestock, too.
“We had our district competition at Hutchinson Community College, and I took first in the swine judging and reasons division,” she said. “Our team also took second in the invitational.”
Klenda likes to dispel the myth that FFA is just for for farm kids.
“Agriculture has a wide variety of opportunities,” she said. “It doesn’t have to always have to deal with working out in the field directly.
“FFA has opened a lot of opportunities for me,” she added. “I’m not afraid to public speak anymore. I’m better able to get up in front of a crowd and not be so nervous.”
While Klenda excels in her young FFA career, she’s also involved in 4-H as well as CHS volleyball, basketball and track.
Typically, Klenda spends her time after school attending athletic practices, before going home to tend to her regular chores, which include feeding hogs in the family swine operation, and helping her sister with show steers.
Klenda doesn’t have a favorite class at Centre high school, but said Granzow is at the top of her list of teachers.
“Mr. Granzow tries to get everyone involved and tries to get everyone to try things at least once,” she said. “If they like what they’re doing and they’re good at it, they can go on with it.”
Although Klenda has three more years of high school to look forward to, she’s already entertaining thoughts about her post-high school career.
“I’ve already thought about the possibility of becoming a veterinarian,” she said. “If I did that, I’d probably try to go to K-State.”