Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Education and Studies


Agricultural Education

First Advisor

Ryan G. Anderson

Second Advisor

Thomas H. Paulsen


The purpose of this study was to identify and analyze self-identified talents among state FFA officers spanning nearly a decade of student leader data collected by the National FFA Organization. As outlined in the Agricultural Education Research Agenda (Roberts, Harder, & Brashears, 2016), the need to investigate soft skill development and preparedness as well as agricultural recruitment and retention is necessary and information about the strengths of student leaders may provide some insight into this priority. The first objective was to examine diversity in the top five talents of state FFA officers as identified by the Clifton StrengthsFinder® assessment. The second objective compared the top five talent themes of state FFA officers to the state selection process utilized to elect said officers. Objective three was to analyze state FFA officers talents according to the strengths-based domains of leadership utilizing the Clifton StrengthsFinder® assessment data. The research design used a convenience sample of state FFA officers who participated in the personal development opportunity to utilize the Clifton StrengthsFinder® assessment tool, which, by a combination of the state association and the student leader, choose to participate. The strengths data was analyzed for frequency and percentages using JMP software and organized using MicroSoft® Excel.

All states’ FFA associations are provided, free of charge, the opportunity for state FFA officers to utilize the Clifton StrengthsFinder® assessment. Once a student completes the assessment, the signature, top five themes of talent are recorded and made available to the National FFA Organization. Separately collected by the National FFA Organization was the state demographic information. If provided by participating officers or state association, this state demographic was connected with the strengths’ assessment student data. Achiever, Responsibility, Restorative, Includer, Belief, Positivity, WOO and Learner are of the most consistently shared talents in the top ten each year among state FFA officers from 2006-2010, 2012-2015. Using the data of the students and respective themes from 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, which corresponds to the state demographic recorded, frequency and percent of talents were measured compared to the selection process(es) utilized in the corresponding state. The following components of selection: a state FFA officer application, interview, slate of officers, immediate vote of state officer slate, popular vote by individual officer, and on convention stage rounds and/or speeches were compared to the student data. The same, top ten, most frequently occurring talents, regardless of which selection process(es) were utilized of those noted above, were measured. Those are Achiever, Responsibility, Restorative, Includer, Learner, Belief, Positivity, WOO, Input and Communication. Throughout the entire data collection period, when the 3,283 state FFA officers’ top five themes of talent were grouped and organized into the four leadership domains, identified in strengths-based leadership, the results show the most frequently occurring talents were in the Executing domain at 32.87%, while the Influencing domain ranked the lowest represented in the sample at 17.88%

The State and National FFA Organizations should consider these findings with regard to all leadership development programming. Are students receiving adequate information, opportunities and resources to identify, nurture and grow their talents? Evaluating and realizing the talents of students and the respective domains each are categorized may prove insightful when creating leadership development curriculum and content revisions to student programs. Future research should evaluate a random sample of agricultural education students not in FFA and may provide foundations for a greater understanding if programs and opportunities are nurturing and attracting a talent-diverse array of students into the organization. State and National FFA staff should consider and review each step in the selection process and if these steps are truly effective at allowing diversely talented members to be authentically represented. Providing adequate opportunities for students to invest learning knowledge and to develop influencing skills could potentially pull the natural talents contained within the Influencing domain more readily into practice.


Copyright Owner

Denise Mills



File Format


File Size

129 pages