New Mexican running for national FFA office

For immediate release: Oct. 22, 2014
Media contact:
Katie Goetz, Public Information Officer
575-646-2804 office

NMSU student, NMDA employee hopes to lead 610 thousand young people in agricultural education, personal growth

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – A New Mexican is headed to Louisville, Kentucky, next week to make his bid at leading one of the country’s oldest, biggest, and best-known organizations for developing young leaders, especially in the realm of agriculture.

Twenty-year-old Caleb Gustin is among 42 candidates from across the country hoping to take one of just six spots on the 2014-2015 National FFA Officer Team.  That team will be charged with inspiring leadership, personal growth, and career success among 610,240 FFA members in 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“I’m ready to step into this experience and give myself to all the members,” Gustin said.  “Not all leaders are in the spotlight – I want to learn from the members and learn their story in order to help them reach their full potential.”

He cultivated that philosophy as an FFA member at Moriarty High School, which he graduated from in 2012.  During his first year of college at New Mexico State University (NMSU), he served as a state vice-president for New Mexico FFA.  Last year, he served as state president, visiting the members of 30 FFA chapters across New Mexico – all while attending NMSU full-time. 

“Caleb [has been] an inspirational leader – he believes in leading by serving others,” State FFA Executive Secretary Jerrod Smith said.  “We wish Caleb the best of luck, and [we] know if he is selected he will continue to lead FFA members nationwide through his service.”

Gustin is studying Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business, a department he represents as an ambassador for NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES).  He also works part-time at New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA), where he helps with various projects.

“Caleb is ready to serve and has what it takes to lead and inspire others.  We wish him all the best – even though it would mean that we’d lose his good help at NMDA for a year,” New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said.  “We know he has all the qualities to lead FFA at the national level.”

If Gustin wins national office, he’ll spend the next year doing a lot of traveling.  He’ll visit and conduct officer trainings at FFA chapters across the country.  He’ll also meet with leaders of the U.S. agricultural industry.

Gustin grew up working around cattle on his grandfather’s ranch.  He furthered his interest in animal agriculture by showing pigs and sheep at the county and state fairs.  These days, he spends what spare time he has hunting and fishing, playing intramural football at NMSU, and volunteering around Las Cruces at such places as El Caldito Soup Kitchen.

Caleb is the son of Mike and Lisa Gustin.  His sister Jessica is a freshman at NMSU studying to be a county extension agent with the Cooperative Extension Service. 

He hopes to be selected either as president, secretary, or as the Western region vice-president.  That final decision will be made by the National FFA Organization’s nine-member nominating committee, which bases its selection on candidates’ passion for and knowledge about FFA.

The 2014-15 National FFA Officer Team will be announced Nov. 1.  People can tune in to RFD-TV that afternoon to watch the results.

If Gustin wins national office, he wouldn’t be the first New Mexican to do so.  George Stelter (Clovis) served on the 1942-43 team; Hunt Zumwalt (Artesia), the 1953-54 team; Bill Caraway (Clovis), the 1983-84 team; Marshall Baker (Texico), the 2000-01 team; Stuart Joy (Artesia), the 2005-06 team; Paul Moya (Los Lunas), the 2008-09 team; Shannon Norris (Cliff), the 2010-11 team; and Ryan Best (Elida), the 2011-12 team.