Arizona Agricultural Education/FFA Foundation
You can help make a difference in the lives of Arizona’s future leaders by supporting Agricultural Education and the Arizona FFA. As a non-profit organization, the Arizona Agricultural Education/FFA Foundation is dedicated to raising funds to cultivate Arizona’s most valuable commodity- our youth.
Thank you to the sponsors and silent auction donors of the 4th annual
1982-1983 Arizona FFA State Officer Team
Arizona Cattlemen’s Association
Arizona Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers
Arizona Pork Council
Con & Joy Englehorn
Ken Johnson, Sr.
Ron & Heather Rayner
Shag & Shirley Rogers
Silent Auction Donors
Amber Cheatham Owens - The Pharmin’ Company, LLC
Arizona Cochise Co.
Arizona Department of Agriculture
Arizona Machinery Co.- Avondale
Arizona National Livestock Show
Arizona Dairy Council
Arizona Farm & Ranch Hall of Fame Committee
Arizona Wool Producers - Carmen Auza
Casa Grande FFA
Carlos Hardaway Art
Coral Moon Lewis Art
Crossfit Fury, Goodyear
Empire Cat Buckeye
FARM, Inc. - Gary McKenzie
Fleming’s Prime Steak House & Wine Bar
Lawson Auto Supply
Mercer Livestock Co.
Miller's Southwestern Processing Inc.
Quicken Loans - Nik Zelma
RDO Equipment Co. Yuma
Ron & Heather Rayner
The Stock Shop
Sun Country Outdoor Adventures, LLC- Cliff Saylor
Ty Cook, Yuma
University of Arizona
Wet N’ Wild Water Park
Arizona FFA Alumni Spotlight
Dr. James Knight
This month the Arizona Agricultural Education/FFA Foundation Alumni Spotlight would like to honor the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Service Award, Dr. James Knight of the University of Arizona. Dr. Knight’s career with FFA has been long and prestigious, having served the American FFA and agricultural education in just about every way possible. His 50-year relationship with our program has been one of mutual devotion and commitment. What he took from this program he repaid tenfold and we would like to take a moment to acknowledge his continued contributions.
Dr. James Knight was reared in Colorado where he grew up on a small family farm/ranch and attended public school near his home in Last Chance, Colorado. The high school he attended had only 60 students and had only just begun an agriculture education program when he entered. He joined FFA as it seemed a natural fit as a farm kid, but quickly began questioning his decision when his Ag teacher Mr. Marble informed his freshman students that reciting the creed was a class requirement. Though James had spoken in front of groups before, he had never delivered a prepared speech to classmates and friends. He was overcome with adolescent fear and anxiety, he let his insecurities get the best of him and he threw up! There in the middle of class all of his nerves physically manifested themselves into the form of vomit.
Once the nausea had passed and his greatest fear was realized, Dr. Knight completed the creed perfectly from memory. Later that day his Ag teacher, Mr. Marble, approached James and said, “Not too bad once you got up there. I think you’re a natural. The way I see it you have two choices: you can avoid public speaking and live in constant fear of ever talking in front of people again or you can face it head on, master it and make it your own. That’s your choice.”
So that spring Dr. Knight competed in the public speaking contest. His first time in the contest he placed 9th out of 18 competitors and the contents of his stomach remained intact. That victory was just as sweet as winning the public speaking competition his senior year! Dr. Knight still counts Mr. Marble as one of his greatest mentors and influences. He can’t even imagine a life in which he avoided public speaking; one thing is for certain he would definitely not be leading a lecture in a hall of 100 students. James completed his career in FFA by helping his Livestock team takes first, he won the public speaking contest and he ran for state office and became the President of the Colorado State FFA Association.
James went on to earn his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Colorado State University and he became an ag teacher and FFA advisor in Holyoke and Golden, Colorado. In his six-year tenure he won National Golden Chapter twice but he counts the real accomplishments of his tenure as being the huge strides he was able to make within his chapter for gender equality. Only a few years before, under his reign as state president, allowing women to join the FFA was regrettably voted down. The 70s ushered in a new age and a new FFA and of his 50-year career Dr. Knight is proudest of being able to help steward in that change and support the remarkable and talented women in his chapter. His chapter produced the first female state officer for Colorado, the first female public speaking winner, the first female state degree recipient and the first all-female winning parliamentary procedure team. Today the fairer sex counts as 44% of our national membership, with 50% of the leadership positions being held by females.
Dr. Knight’s love of education led him to return to school. He was accepted and enrolled in a doctoral program for Ohio State University in 1977. He was offered a faculty position and remained there as a full time professor until 1988. At the time his father-in-law’s health was failing, so he and his wife Linda relocated to Tucson, AZ to care for him. Dr. Knight became an adjunct professor and started his own private consulting business. He met the Dean of the U of A’s College of Agriculture socially and soon after was asked to join the faculty in 1996 and he was appointed full professor on July 1, 2000. Then on July 1, 2001, he became the Department Head in Agricultural Education at the University of Arizona. Effective July 1, 2005, he was named as a Faculty Associate for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University to work with faculty development and student recruitment.
Over the last fifty years Dr. Knight has remained dedicated to the FFA program. He has served on the National Agricultural Education Board, the FFA National Board of Trustees and of course the Arizona Agricultural Education/FFA Foundation. Though at times, being of service has been challenging. Dr. Knight says he’s a true believer and that is what keeps him coming back year after year. He believes that the ag education model is the premier model for teaching and learning. The three circle approach to hands-on learning allows students to understand what they are doing, why they are doing it and what the results will be and that is a lesson they won’t soon forget.
Today Dr. Knight resides in Tucson with his high school sweetheart and wife of 48 years, Linda. Together they have two children, nine grandchildren, four great grandchildren and one on the way! He remembers each graduate of the Agriculture Education program, their names, where they are teaching now and where their strengths as a teacher lie. You can see the pride and fulfillment in his eyes as he discusses each advisor and what they are doing to make their chapters exceptional. The success of his students is his success and after so many years of teaching, that is a tremendous amount of victory and accomplishment.
Dr. Knight has retirement in his sights. In June 2014, he will resign from the Foundation board and the University of Arizona. After dedicating a lifetime towards education and agriculture he will be letting go of his current posts and taking time to smell the roses. He and Linda look forward to traveling. They are very active in their church and plan on going on several missions, visiting the grandkids and enjoying every moment. Blue and gold will always course through his veins even as he takes a less active role and his legacy will continue to unfold throughout Colorado, Arizona and the national FFA organization. For that we extend our deepest and most heartfelt gratitude for his generosity of mind and spirit.
Click here to view past Arizona FFA Alumni Spotlights
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