LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A Hernando High School graduate was named a winner at the 86th annual National Future Farmers of America Convention this month.
Delaney Rose Ahrens, 18, of the Brooksville Sr. FFA Chapter, earned the Agriscience Research - Integrated Systems Proficiency award during the convention in Louisville, Ky.
Part of her research included testing types of reusable bags for bacteria growth due to improper use, according to the National FFA Foundation.
"It was definitely a shock, because I was going against three other people, and we got to know each other pretty well through the interview process," Ahrens said. "They had done some pretty amazing research themselves, and it was just a shock to win, because I feel like any of us could have won, honestly."
The proficiency award program, sponsored by the National FFA Foundation, recognizes FFA members who excel in agricultural entrepreneurship while gaining hands-on career experience, according to the foundation.
"To my knowledge there has never been a national proficiency award winner from Hernando County," said Brooksville chapter adviser and Hernando High agriscience teacher Rick Ahrens, who also is Delaney's father.
Each state is allowed to send one application, Rick Ahrens said, and a set of judges reviews and ranks them as gold, silver or bronze participants.
"The golds, they look at and pick out the top four," he said. "This application was about 40-50 pages long, all of her research from high school, and her letters of recommendation."
Delaney Ahrens, ranked among the top four gold finalists, then went to the national convention in Louisville.
From that point, Rick Ahrens said, Delaney Ahrens was screened by another panel of judges, which included face-to-face interviews prior to her selection.
The national youth organization has 557,318 student members from 7,498 FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Delaney Ahrens was selected in April by Gov. Rick Scott as one of two most promising young scientific leaders in Florida's 2013 high school graduating class and was invited by West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to serve as a Florida ambassador at the 50th annual National Youth Science Camp.
"Find something that you like," Delaney Ahrens said, adding that when she began as a freshman she wasn't interested in science. "But I got into a lab and fell in love with the lab and just continued my work."
For more information on the National FFA, go to www.FFA.org