IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:
November 1, 2017 www.nj.gov/agriculture
PO Box 330
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0330
P: (609) 633-2954
C: (609) 433-1785
(TRENTON) – Cumberland County’s Joshua Loew was named the winner of the National FFA Proficiency Award in Outdoor Recreation - Entrepreneurship/Placement at the 90th Annual National FFA Convention and Expo on Friday in Indianapolis, Ind. Loew, a member of the Cumberland Regional High School FFA and a Newport resident, was one of four finalists for the award.
The proficiency awards recognize outstanding student achievement in agribusiness gained through establishment of a new business, working for an existing company, or otherwise gaining hands-on career experience. The Outdoor Recreation - Entrepreneurship/Placement award is one of 47 proficiency program areas FFA members can participate in to develop valuable experience and leadership skills at the local, state, and national levels.
“It was just an amazing honor and very humbling to hear my name called as the winner,” Loew said. “To even be a finalist for it was incredible, and it just means so much to be the winner. I owe a big thank you to my teachers and mentors over the years who have pushed me, challenged me, and encouraged me. Being a part of FFA is something I will cherish the rest of my life, and even though my family members are not farmers, being a part of FFA can lead you to many different paths in life. I never dreamed I could win an award like this when I started in FFA.
“Every skill has been significantly improved by FFA. There’s nothing that FFA hasn’t improved in my life.”
Loew became eligible for the national award after winning the New Jersey state FFA competition earlier this year and was the first New Jersey member to be a finalist for this award since 2006. Loew received a $500 scholarship for winning the national honor, which is in addition to the $500 that each of the four finalists received.
“To see Josh walk up on that stage made me so proud of what he has accomplished and the work he has put in,” said Nancy Trivette, the New Jersey Program Leader, Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Education. “We had such a great week, and to see it capped off with Josh winning was just a wonderful way to finish our experience there this year.”
The final part of the competition included an extensive interview after arriving in Indianapolis. He practiced for that with Trivette and NJDA State FFA Specialist Erin Noble in the weeks before the convention. But the development of his public speaking skills had been taking place for the last few years after joining the FFA Chapter at Cumberland Regional High School, which is led by sponsor Patricia Thorne.
“Josh winning this award is a great example of how FFA can make a positive impact on a young person’s life,” said Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “The FFA sponsors in our schools give their time to teach the life skills that have a lasting impact in members’ lives and it’s wonderful to see our members honored for their work on the national level.”
Loew’s nomination came in large part because of his employment at Beaver Dam Boat Rentals on Oranoken Creek. While being an on-the-water guide where he pulled as many as six boats at a time through an intricate waterway system, Loew also learned to identify multiple species of wildlife and plant and tree life. His regular interaction with customers broadened his conversational skills during his five years at the job, where he is comfortable discussing a wide range of topics.
Loew believes the experience helped him develop leadership, teamwork, customer service and critical thinking skills. He hopes to become a biological scientist in the future, studying animal species and ecosystems.
Loew was the New Jersey FFA State Sentinel for the 2016-2017 school year. He also has competed in fruit and vegetable and poultry identification, team demonstration, individual demonstration, turf and nursery, and environmental and natural resources events, and attended various other workshops.
Other national winners from New Jersey came in the Agriscience Fair Division. Darrel D’Souza and Jonathan Shen, members of the Biotechnology FFA Chapter in Monmouth County, won Division 6 in the Environmental Services/Natural Resource Systems category. A top individual from New Jersey was Kass Wojcik of Newton FFA, who was 10th overall in Environmental and Natural Resources Career Development. Several other NJ FFA members and chapters received Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards in various categories. For a full listing of national award winners click here.
In New Jersey, more than 2,500 FFA members in 37 chapters engage in personal, career, and leadership development activities that challenge them to excel as they develop agricultural skills and competencies for the future.
The National Proficiency award is sponsored by Yamaha Motor Corporation USA as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth, and career success training through agricultural education to 649,355 student members who belong to one of 7,859 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 225,891 alumni members in 1,934 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.
To learn more about the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NJDeptofAgriculture and www.facebook.com/JerseyFreshOfficial or Twitter @NJDA1 and @JerseyFreshNJDA.