A Spring Branch FFA senior is one of only 10 students statewide named recently to the Texas FFA Ford Leadership Scholars Program. Ben Johnson, a senior at Stratford High, is working with the president and CEO of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Joel Cowley, on his Ford Leadership community service project, an open air learning pavilion at the district Agricultural Center and Barn. His project has a December deadline.
Leadership runs in the family for Johnson. His father, Ken Johnson, is Texas FFA Foundation Chair and a former Texas FFA president (1976-77) and national FFA president (1977-78).
Ben started locally in the Spring Branch FFA. He raised pigs and goats, followed by horticulture and non-livestock projects. Grand champion awards and honors followed.
But the skills that took this ambitious Johnson family member to Texas leadership ranks are based on professional learning. He placed second statewide in the FFA’s Prepared Public Speaking-Natural Resourcs category with a winning presentation on the recent state drought.
He then competed in the Job Interview-Leadership Development Event (LDE) and was the only Spring Branch member to place at the district level. He followed with a public speaking contest, placing at district. He was named a Star Chapter Farmer and advanced to area and state competitions in other areas of study.
As a sophomore, he attended Texas FFA Convention and Washington Leadership Conference. In his junior year, Ben focused on leadership development skills, and he competed in Job Interview, Senior Quiz and Prepared Public Speaking areas.
At year’s end, he was chosen for the 2014 Texas FFA Ford Leadership Scholars Program, which included a week of intense leadership training for the 10 chosen students. Ben’s also serving as Spring Branch FFA president this year.
“Ben came into FFA and was an officer quickly, but he was always searching for something that was more than animals and plants,” says FFA instructor Jane Primrose. “He’s really good. Ben is the special kid who masters something, then says, ‘What’s next? Throw me something else.’ He will master something, then do something else, learn the next project.”
Ben says he stumbled into a public speaking contest in ninth grade. “Before that, I was a quiet kid who did not like to speak to adults,” he says.
His dream is to be a CEO. For the immediate future, he’s focused on Texas A&M University’s bachelor’s degree program in agriculture leadership and development, or engineering.
He is driven to achieve. “Through FFA and Boys Scouts, I have been able to grow my leadership skills,” he says. “I like working my way up, but I don’t like coming in last place.”
One year, he taught himself golf from scratch. He earned a varsity letter less than a year later.
Ben Johnson: History of Honors
FFA in the Family: He is a third generation Texas FFA member. Both grandfathers and his dad, Ken Johnson, were FFA members. Their family has been connected with FFA since 1948. Ken Johnson is chairman of the Texas FFA Foundation Board of Directors.
Awards & Honors: As a freshman, Ben’s awards include Grand Champion Goat, Pig and 2-D Art for local chapter. He was named local and district Star Greenhand, and won the district Goat Proficiency Award. As a sophomore, he won Grand Champion Horticulture, Reserve Champion Food and Non-Livestock High Point Winner. At District, he was sixth in Senior Prepared Public Speaking Contest. He was named Star Chapter Farmer, then elected chapter secretary. At state, he placed second in Agricultural Mechanics Design & Fabrication Proficiency. As a junior, he was elected chapter president, went to state in Senior Prepared Public Speaking and Star Lonestar Degree-Agribusiness. He became a 2014 Texas FFA Ford Leadership Scholar last spring.
Eagle Scout Project: To earn Eagle Scout as a sophomore, Ben designed and built a new Lamb and Goat Exercise Track at the district Ag Center in 2012. More than 50 volunteers worked with Ben over more than 430 hours to build the special track. He also holds 103 Merit badges and 4 Eagle Palms. He was elected this year to the Order of the Arrow, the national honor society for Scouting. He is a member of Troop 993-Ashford United Methodist Church.