Fu­ture star

The Covington News - - THE SECOND FRONT - DANIELLE EVER­SON deverson@cov­news.com

An ac­ci­dent in sched­ul­ing dur­ing high school turned into na­tional honor and recog­ni­tion for Josie Stamps, a mem­ber of the New­ton County Fu­ture Farm­ers of Amer­ica Chap­ter.

The 18-year-old New­ton High School 2012 grad­u­ate com­peted at the 85th An­nual Na­tional FFA Con­ven­tion and Expo held in Indianapolis from Oct. 24-27, where more than 55,000 FFA mem­bers at­tended the event.

While at the con­fer­ence, Stamps placed top four in the coun­try for Equine Sci­ence En­trepreneur­ship Pro­fi­ciency. She re­ceived the award for her project of train­ing horses and teach­ing chil­dren how to ride horses.

Stamps, who now at­tends Ge­or­gia State Univer­sity as a fresh­man, was an­nounced the 2012 Equine Sci­ence state win­ner at the 84th State FFA Con­ven­tion held at the Ma­con Cen­tre­plex in April, which gave her the op­por­tu­nity to com­pete in na­tion­als. She said she never imag­ined she would go to na­tion­als when she com­peted on the state level.

“Oh my good­ness it was amaz­ing. I was not ex­pect­ing it,” Stamps said. “The way the pro­fi­ciency’s go — the state win­ners go in and com­pete and you can get bronze, sil­ver or gold rank­ing; and then you can get a pass gold rank­ing in the top four. I was ex­pect­ing to be in one of the other ar­eas.

“I was go­ing in to win es­sen­tially — I mean that’s how you do it with ev­ery­thing you com­pete in; but when I found out I made top four and would ac­tu­ally be go­ing to na­tion­als it was like just ic­ing on the cake for my last year es­sen­tially.”

Stamps first joined the New­ton County Chap­ter of FFA in 2009 dur­ing her sopho­more year of high school. She said she signed up for the or­ga­ni­za­tion af­ter she ac­ci­den­tally reg­is­tered for an agri­cul­ture class in­stead of a French course.

“I had ru­ined my sched­ule. So I said okay, I’ll take an Ag class and see how this is. And I don’t know, I joined the club and de­cided that it was a lot of fun and I really liked it and I got a pig.”

I just got sucked into the en­tire thing. I went and bought a pig and I showed the pig,” she said. “When you show pigs, you kind of have them in the arena all nice and clean, and it’s like which pig looks the best es­sen­tially.”

“I only showed it three times and af­ter that I was like, ‘I wanted to stick with the horses.’”

Stamps grasped a love of horses at her par­ents’ hunter/jumper fa­cil­ity in Ox­ford,

Wild­flower Farm, which was es­tab­lished in 1998. Her mom, Kath­leen, has taught horse lessons to chil­dren for 20-plus years. Kath­leen said Josie be­gan help­ing her with teach­ing lessons when Josie was in the fifth grade and it sort of be­came a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for her. Josie talked about her first en­coun­ters with horses long be­fore she be­gan teach­ing oth­ers about her pas­sion.

“I started show­ing horses and do­ing begin­ners stuff when I was about four years old; so, I’ve been rid­ing horses ever since I was four,” she said. “I had a pony and she was ab­so­lutely tiny. Her name was Tinker­bell and she was a lit­tle white pony. I just kind of grew up in it just how kids kind of grow up in any sport.”

Josie said her work with horses was sep­a­rate from the agri­cul­ture pro­gram at NHS be­cause horses aren’t con­sid­ered live­stock. She said she com­peted with horses through the New­ton County FFA chap­ter.

“The en­tirety of the project was here at this farm and then my stu­dents and the horses travel to horse shows,” she said.

“I have a cou­ple of younger stu­dents right now. I think the youngest one I have is five and then the old­est per­son I teach, she is 18,” Josie said. “The type I teach is called hunter/jumper. So you can jump even­tu­ally and it’s also hunt seat style rid­ing.”

Josie gives lessons to ages 4-years old and up af­ter school dur­ing the week­days. She said she ad­ver­tises for new stu­dents through lo­cal news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines and at live­stock shows. Though she en­joys teach­ing lessons, the un­de­cided GSU fresh­man said she is in­ter­ested in tak­ing up some­thing dif­fer­ent for a ma­jor.

“I al­ways want to have horses in my life and I al­ways want to have a horse and ride horses; but I don’t think I want to do horses pro­fes­sion­ally,” she said. “I’m think­ing about ei­ther get­ting a de­gree in bi­ol­ogy or physics or pos­si­bly busi­ness. I just want to take classes in ev­ery­thing that I am in­ter­ested in.”

Kath­leen said she is proud of her daugh­ter and her son, Har­ri­son, who’s a ju­nior at NHS, for their involvement in FFA. She said the pro­gram has given both of her chil­dren lead­er­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties and ad­di­tional guid­ance.

“I never ex­pected all of this from FFA I never ever thought that this would hap­pen,” she said. “The whole or­ga­ni­za­tion — I am to­tally blown away by it, to­tally blown away, more than any other thing that we have been in­volved with our kids.”

Danielle Ever­son/the Cov­ing­ton News

Ox­ford res­i­dent Josie Stamps ad­vanced all the way to the na­tional fi­nals for the Fu­ture Farm­ers of Amer­ica con­test. When she’s not at­tend­ing col­lege, she teaches horse rid­ing lessons at her fam­ily’s Wild­flower Farms.

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