Mikaela Schuman - Leading by example

Mikaela Schuman, the first Rising Star winner

“I love helping people in our community and seeing the way their faces light up from the kindness of the volunteers,” says Mikaela Schuman, a junior at Sequatchie County High School and president of her local FFA chapter for the past two years. “I especially love the kids. Whether it is handing them a hot dog at a community event or toys at Christmas for Kids, I love to see people happy.”

Schuman has been involved in the agriculture education-based youth leadership organization since her freshman year and has held an office each year. She was drawn to the program because of her desire to become a veterinarian and found that the organization offered the opportunity to improve her public speaking and leadership skills in addition to helping to prepare her for a career in animal science.

Through work on her FFA Greenhand Degree, Shuman began spending hours outside of the classroom, working after school on her Ag Science Fair project — an aquaponic filtration experiment to compare the efficiency of manmade water-filtering materials versus natural filtering materials such as sticks, limestone and chert rocks. She and her lab partner won first place at the state competition and advanced to the national contest during the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. The pair represented themselves and their school very well, scoring Silver Level.

“I think we were about 11th in the competition, but that was out of hundreds of participants, so we were very excited,” says Schuman. “We are expanding our project this year and hope to compete again next year at the National Convention.”

In addition to the Ag Science Fair, Shuman has competed in both prepared and extemporaneous public speaking, the Vet Science and Quiz Bowl team events, Tennessee State Jackpot and Soil and Conservation competition.

“FFA has not only helped me develop my knowledge of agriculture and my communication, public speaking and team work skills, it has also allowed me to make friends with people from all over the state and nation,” Shuman says. “I wish everyone had the opportunity to be involved in FFA.”

A student who maintains excellent grades, Schuman is also involved in the Beta Club. Both the Beta Club and FFA stress the importance of volunteering in the community. Through these organizations, Schuman has volunteered at Farm Day at the Johnson Farm’s Cookie Jar Cafe, the Sequatchie County Fair, Days of Yesteryear festival and Christmas for Kids in the Park. She will be volunteering at the local food bank this semester to give back to the community from which she has received so much.

“Mikaela remains active in club activities while maintaining excellent grades in school and holding down a job in the community,” says Tammie Akin, Sequatchie County High School FFA adviser and agriculture educator. “She has not only remained active but has managed to excel in her numerous leadership and career development competitions. Her goal is to continue to study animal science and veterinary medicine at the collegiate level and eventually return to this area to open her own practice. I have no doubt she can be successful in her endeavors. Mikaela has the will and the work ethic to make this happen. I am very proud to have a very small part in her education and growth as a leader. I can’t think of a more deserving young leader.”

SVEC is very proud to honor this remarkable young leader — a Rising Star in our community.