bolton and stewart

Cole Bolton and Kristen Stewart of Jacksonville both hold high-ranking FFA offices.

A Jacksonville High School Alum and soon-to-be-senior have climbed their way up the Future Farmers of America ladder and are continuing to set achievements. Cole Bolton, a 2006 JHS graduate, and senior Kristen Stewart returned from the FFA State Leadership camp, held June 3-6, in Glenrose.

Cole became the FFA District President his sophomore year, served as area treasurer his senior year and attended three state conventions as a voting delegate. Now, Cole will vie for the state president office.

“I decided to run for state office because I wanted to be able to make policies at the state level,” Cole said. “Only one other Jacksonville student has done it. I ran in May at the area convention and out of eight candidates, they selected me to go. I’ll have to go through an interview, a test and be voted by popular vote.”

This month, July 10-14, Cole will give a speech at the state convention held in Ft. Worth, securing a state office spot.

“I’m a candidate from Area 9 for an office,” he explained. “Each area has a state officer and there are 10 areas (in Texas). As a state officer, I’ll take a year off of college and travel to several schools across Texas to speak.”

Cole said the year-long schedule for the “traveling team” is grueling — speaking to three schools a day, five days a week — but he said it’s worth it.

“You get to talk about FFA — promote it — and encourage good character and ethics to many schools in Texas,” he said.

According to Cole, there has not been a Jacksonville student serving at the state FFA level in more than 20 years.

Even if he loses the president’s seat, Cole said he would still be a vice-president, helping put on all the FFA camps throughout the state.

Kristen will return to JHS as FFA’s area First-Vice President office.

“I started as a district officer,” she said. “There are about 40 schools in the district. From there, I saw Cole become an area officer and I said, ‘if he can do it, I can do it.’ You also have to go through interviews, and a test and give a speech.”

Kristen represents the Piney Woods district. She also has attended two state conventions as a voting delegate. Cole and Kristen said they have taken away valuable lessons and skills from FFA that will last them a lifetime.

“I’ve learned so many career skills, from job interviewing to planning, that no other organization promotes so much,” Cole said. “They (the organization) give more scholarship money than any other school organization.”

Kristen added that she has learned leadership skills and gets to meet a variety of new people.

“I’ve learned how to be a proper leader. I’m a small town girl. (Through FFA) I also got to be exposed to more people and lifestyles. I can see people and new friends I’ve made and people who I’ve looked up to. Those are some things I’ll take with me for life.”

Both agreed that with continued support hopefully the FFA Chapter in Jacksonville will thrive and become an essential part of the 4-A school district.

“That’s where it all starts,” Kristen said. “Without the support of our chapter members and other people who have helped along the way — you can’t really accomplish anything by yourself.”

Kristen’s parents are Brad and Tina Stewart, both of whom are school principals in the district, and Cole is the son of Tony and Jacki Bolton.

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