Maloch Returns to U of A After Year on Road as National FFA Officer
Victoria Maloch, a senior from Magnolia majoring in agricultural business and minoring in agricultural communication, was the first national FFA officer from Arkansas in 21 years.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Victoria Maloch, a senior in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, returned to the Universty of Arkansas this past year following a yearlong commitment as secretary of the National Future Farmers of America Organization.
Maloch, a native of Magnolia, is interning this summer in Washington, D.C., but was on campus working on her agricultural business and pre-law double-major after carrying on her family's tradition of FFA service. Her father also served as national FFA secretary.
"We were the first father-daughter pair to share this opportunity and position," said Maloch. "It was by sheer coincidence. Officers are elected by a nine-member committee. They conduct week-long interviews and selection rounds, and then slate six candidates as officers. There is no voting after that, only a vote to unanimously accept the slate. The committee happened to slate me as secretary without knowing my dad had been a national officer, let alone the national secretary, too."
Maloch was involved in agriculture early and attended her first cow show when she was six. Watching older siblings participate in FFA made it an easy decision to get involved by the time she was old enough in eighth grade.
Her term from October 2014 through October 2015 included traveling more than 300 days and 100,000 miles around the country to promote agricultural advocacy and leadership development.
"We broke the attendance record at the national convention (in Louisville, Kentucky) with over 65,000 people," said Maloch, who also served as Arkansas state FFA president as a senior in high school. "It made us the largest youth convention in the country."
Duties and responsibilities included interacting with business and industry leaders, FFA members and teachers, corporate sponsors, government and education officials, state FFA leaders and the general public. Her group led personal growth and leadership training conferences for FFA members across the country, and helped establish policies to guide the future of FFA and promote agricultural literacy.
"I learned no matter where you are from, how many members your state has, how much funding your state or school does or does not get, FFA changes student lives across the country," said Maloch. "That is why this organization has remained so strong and continued to reach new all-time membership highs each year."
She said personal highlights included "meeting members across the country and seeing them have influential experiences involving agriculture, education, leadership and more; meeting U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy at the Japanese Embassy to discuss FFA and agricultural trade with Japan; and meeting Deb Eschmeyer, executive director of Let's Move (childhood obesity initiative) in the East Wing of the White House."
FFA is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, but Maloch was rarely there. Her favorite trips included "New England in the fall for chapter visits, Hawaii for its state convention and Arkansas because it was nice to come back home and celebrate that experience with FFA members, staff and agriculture teachers who had supported me for so long."
Maloch, who was the first Arkansan selected to a national officer position in 21 years, was chosen following an intense, five-day interview. Rounds focused on goals, motivation and desire to be a national officer; multiple choice and essay written exams; 10-minute one-on-one interviews with the nominating committee; planning, organizing and delivering a spoken presentation on agricultural education current events and issues; planning, creating and facilitating a student workshop on points provided by the committee in front of an audience; and three, 10-minute round robin conversations on key agriculture issues.
"Most candidates spend months preparing," said Maloch. "I went through this process twice. The year before I was elected, I ran and made it to the final interviews. The top half of candidates advance halfway through the week to final interviews. Both years, it was an incredibly great and educational experience. Many rounds are behavioral based, so preparing really pushed me to reflect on who I am, experiences I have had and why I wanted to serve as a national officer or otherwise."
"Victoria earning the position of national FFA secretary illustrated for fellow students and members how hard work and dedication, passion for a mission and life-long learning, and the value of studying leadership can yield outcomes," said Casandra Cox, an instructor in the Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology.
Maloch is minoring in agricultural communications and plans to obtain a Juris Doctor and Master of Laws in agricultural and food law from the U of A.
"Watching Victoria interact with her FFA peers during the 2015 Arkansas FFA Convention was a true example of actions speaking louder than words," said Cox. "Her enthusiasm and vigor for agriculture, leadership and FFA was more visible than ever, and her impact on the younger members was visible in each conversation she had with them."
"My generation is constantly put down as lazy, arrogant and entitled," said Maloch, who plans to go into public service and work in public policy. "I wish everyone could interact with the almost 630,000 FFA members, though. This generation's FFA members are truly living to serve and would give anyone hope for the future."
Lacey Howard, communications intern
Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences
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