TARKINGTON – Only 1 % of the 945,000 current student members of the Future Farmers of America will attain the distinction of the American FFA Degree, culminating in a lifetime of commitment to agricultural pursuits.
Keilee Day, a 2021 Tarkington High School graduate, will join those ranks officially this November when she is awarded her gold American FFA Degree key and certificate at the 96th National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Day, who joined Liberty Jr. FFA at the age of eight, dreamed of the opportunity to earn this distinguished honor one day.
“Now that I am 20 years old and achieving that dream, I am ecstatic. It shows that years of hard work and dedication can lead to a multitude of success and dreams coming true,” she said.
According to the FFA, to receive this prestigious honor, members must meet qualifications such as a State FFA Degree, holding active membership for the past three years, completing secondary instruction in an agricultural education program, and operating an outstanding supervised agricultural experience program.
Recipients also must perform community service and demonstrate leadership abilities and outstanding academic achievement.
Day is currently a student at Texas A&M University, where she is pursuing her Agricultural Economics degree.
Day, who began her FFA pursuits with the Liberty Jr. FFA while attending school in Devers and Liberty ISDs, eventually moved to Tarkington with her family, where she was a member of the Tarkington FFA. She has also participated in Mid County 4H and as a member of the Texas Junior Livestock Association and Texas Best Show Series.
Over the last dozen years, Day has built quite the resume and taken numerous honors, competing locally at the Trinity Valley Exposition, Cleveland Livestock Show, and bigger contests like the Houston and San Antonio livestock shows.
Day has won many awards and placed numerous times in market lambs, breeding gilts and market barrows, including at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas.
But it may be those local livestock events that have most influenced Day, and her support for those organizations is unwavering.
“ I want to say a huge thank you to the buyers who come out and support our ag kids at the Trinity Valley Exposition and Cleveland Livestock Show Sales every year. Without them, the majority of kids would not have the funding to continue to get out and purchase their next project for that next county fair or major show,” said Day.
Day exhibited hard work and success over her years, placing 27 times at the TVE, including the 2020 Grand Champion Market Steer. She echoed those successes in Cleveland, taking home many accolades.
Day has had many influences over the years, but for her, first and foremost are her parents, Cody and Tara Day.
“My mom and dad always pushed me to be the best I could be and to reach for the stars,” said Day.
She also commends the support of Allen Lott, Jason Lackey and Mr. Purswell, her first Ag instructor at Liberty ISD.
“Without these people, this would not be possible, and I am so proud to say they have been in my corner for years,” she said.
Since heading off to college, Day has kept herself busy, continuing her agricultural pursuits at Blinn College and now Texas A&M.
While at Blinn, she was a member of the Livestock Judging Team and recipient of the Blinn Livestock Judging Team Scholarship. During her sophomore year, the team competed in 13 contests. Taking championship team honors at the Tri-State Fair, the National Western Stock Show Carload contest, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, and the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.
“Keilee also emphasizes a quote that served as her rock for the past two years, When you have a dream, you’ve got to grab it and never let go,’” said a statement from Blinn Livestock Judging Team coaches Bryce Mund and Quest Newberry.
During her time at Blinn, she traveled the country and grew as a student.
Now a student at Texas A&M, Day is a member of the Saddle and Sirloin Club, Collegiate FFA, and Livestock Judging Team. TAMU has taken 16 overall titles in the past few years and won 12 National Titles in the program’s history, dating back to 1904.
“ We will be excited to have Keilee join our program and have her part of the 2023-24 team to represent the program on a national level,” said Texas A& M Livestock Judging Team Coach Caleb Boardman. Day has made a commitment to her agricultural endeavors, as well as many other extracurricular pursuits over the years. A proud Christian, Day is a member of Journey Fellowship of Dayton.
She is co-owner of 4D Livestock, which helps over 40 kids in the Southeast Texas area from Nacogdoches to El Campo and Orange to Cy-Fair, including a primary group in Tarkington. The organization works to acquire show pigs and teach kids the ins and outs in preparation for showing the animals. She also works with kids, providing lessons in showmanship with lambs, goats, and cattle.
Upon graduation, Day hopes to pursue an Agricultural Loan Officer career.
The 2023 American Degree and Star Awards are sponsored by Cargill, Case IH, Elanco Animal Health, and Syngenta.