Cody Smith sits behind the counter of the Country Market at the Indiana State Fair helping customers and providing assistance wherever needed. Before joining the FFA, Future Farmers of America, Smith wouldn’t have pictured himself working a job where he interacted with people.

“I was very shy, very reserved,” said Smith. “But the FFA helped me get out of my shell and helped me get a purpose.”

The FFA chapter at Southmont High School is very active in the Crawfordsville community. “We organize a blood drive every year and promote it in the community”, said Smith. “We also hold conservation days where we teach kids to start conserving water at a young age.”

Smith is currently working as an intern for Southmont’s FFA chapter after graduating in 2014 as president of the chapter.

“The FFA helped get me through high school, helped me get my grades up and helped get me into a good college,” Smith said.

“It really helped me figure out what I want to do with my life.”

Sam Shaver, fellow Southmont FFA member, says the FFA provides growth in ways that you might not even notice.

“The FFA is very good about bettering a person without the person even realizing,” he said.

Southmont’s FFA chapter has many different sections that students can participate in.

“It’s not just farming,” Smith said. “There are 34 different areas you can focus in. It’s endless what you can do, and that’s why I like it.”

The Indiana FFA organization placed Southmont’s FFA chapter in the top 10 for 2015—out of 198 chapters total around the state.

“It’s always an honor to be placed in the top 10 with so many outstanding chapters in the state of Indiana,” said Erin Gilley, academic advisor for the Southmont FFA chapter. After receiving a top-10 ranking, Southmont receives a gold rating in the state of Indiana.

While the Future Farmers of America name may imply the group focuses only on rural communities, Gilley says that isn’t true.

“If you have kids that actively want to be involved, they will,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how big or how small your community is.”

Hendrix Magley is a writer for BSU Journalism at the Fair, a group of 30 students telling Indiana’s stories from a trailer somewhere between the cheese sculpture and the state’s biggest sow. This Ball State University immersive-learning project works for elephant ears.