Howerton brings home gold medal from FCCLA nationals
Berryville’s Jacey Howerton earned Gold at the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) National Leadership Conference in Nashville, Tenn., last week.
Howerton competed in the Chapter Service Project Display category with her “Pass the Bobcat Pride” project. She said the goal of the project has been to collect gently used or new Bobcat shirts and spirit wear to provide to students who don’t have any, enabling them to participate in school spirit events.
There are three score rankings for the FCCLA competition: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Scores between one and 69 are Bronze, while scores between 70 and 89 are Silver. Students must receive a score of 90 or above for a Gold ranking.
Howerton said she almost could not believe it when it was announced she had received Gold for her presentation.
“It was hard for me to fathom at that point,” she said. “It was hard for me to think I had made it this far because I was just competing against myself and the rubric at nationals. I wasn’t competing to move on. You’re really just competing against the rubric to get Bronze, Silver or Gold.”
Out of the nine students who competed in her category, she said she believed three of them received Gold.
“It felt really good to get Gold,” Howerton said, “and I’m hoping to continue the project this upcoming year. I also want to take the things I learned at the leadership conference and get more kids involved in our FCCLA chapter and get the chapter more involved in the student body to do more things because we can do so much with that.”
She said she was at the leadership conference from Sunday, July 2, to Thursday, July 6. On the first day, she said the Arkansas delegates had a state meeting for orientation. The competition took place on the second day, she said, but the awards were not presented until Thursday.
“We got the competition out of the way really quick,” Howerton said. “I thought I did really good right after I competed, but then I had to wait so long to find out that I was stressing out about it a little bit.”
While winning Gold for her project was exciting, she said the national leadership conference was about much more than the competition. She said student delegates from across the United States got to participate in breakout sessions, hone their communication and leadership skills and learn more about careers in family and consumer sciences (FACS) from different businesses and colleges.
“I went to one breakout session about fundraising, which I took a lot away from,” Howerton said. “My project included a lot of fundraising, so I got some tips to help me next year.”
She said she also learned a lot from hearing different FCCLA chapters present on the projects they had done at their schools.
“I met this one school where they have over 200 kids in their chapter, and we have maybe 20,” Howerton said. “They have incentives to get more kids involved, and they used it in their classrooms. I took as many handouts as I could so I could look over them later and go over them with our local chapter and our adviser.”
One thing that really hit her, she said, was learning that you are never too young to be a leader.
“I’m a freshman, so I’m at the bottom of the totem pole,” Howerton said. “At nationals, there were younger kids in FCCLA who took charge of their chapters and did more with it, so I was like ‘I can do that, too.’ ”
The tradition of the FCCLA state pins also helped the student delegates network, she said. She said she purchased Arkansas state pins and traded them with delegates to try to get pins from all 50 states. The process helped them meet new people from across the country, she said.
Howerton said one of the coolest things about nationals was the location.
“I was really looking forward to going to Nashville, and the location was definitely awesome,” she said. “The hotel the Arkansas students had to stay in was overlooking the downtown Broadway area, so it was really neat. You had to walk through Broadway to get to the convention center, so it was a really cool experience.”
Howerton said she wanted to thank everyone who helped fund her trip to the national leadership conference. Equity Bank donated $200, she said, and several individuals made personal donations to help her cover traveling expenses.
“I want to say ‘thank you’ to all the people who supported me along the way with words of encouragement and donations,” she said.
Howerton said she hopes to attend the FCCLA National Leadership Conference again next year in Atlanta.
“I really hope to go to nationals next year. I’d like to get some other students involved, too,” she said. “Hopefully, next year it won’t just be me who goes this far. We’ll see what happens.”