After a year serving as a Washington FFA officer, Yelm High School graduate Abbie Dorhauer will represent the state on the national stage as Washington’s sole candidate for national office.
In late May, Dorhauer was nominated by the Washington FFA Association during its month-long virtual meeting to be the state’s candidate, vying for one of six national positions described by the association’s website as “non-stop hard work and continual commitments.”
“I’m just really excited to be given the opportunity not only to represent Yelm but the state of Washington again for the next six months,” Dorhauer, the 2019-2020 state treasurer, said in an interview with Nisqually Valley News.
The officers are set to be selected by a committee of nine FFA members at the 93rd National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, which is still set to take place Oct. 28-31 pending developments in the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.
A vigorous advocate for those who serve in the blue corduroy jacket, Dorhauer is in for six months of preparation for her candidacy. At the national convention, Dorhauer, as well as dozens of other candidates, will undergo interviews, speeches and a number of workshops before the six will be selected, she said.
“I would definitely say that all of the advisers here at Yelm are really excited to have Abbie represent Washington state and the Yelm community in this journey,” Yelm HIgh School adviser and teacher Matt Mounts wrote in a text. “It’s not often that a chapter has a national officer candidate and we are very proud of everything that she has put into making this happen.”
Mounts was one of the advisers who helped her with preparations for state candidacy. Having spent plenty of time mentoring her, Mounts describes Dorhauer as genuine, hard-working and a bright light in Yelm’s organization.
While Washington nominates a candidate every year, this will likely be the Yelm chapter’s second candidate ever to be nominated for national officer consideration. The first candidate from Yelm was Becca Foote, who was nominated five years ago at the state convention.
“We wish her all the luck and know that her best foot will be forward,” he added.
According to information on the organization's website, national FFA officers are responsible for serving the organization in local, state, national and international activities in accordance with the state’s values and expectations.
The national officers team also works together with the board of directors to work on policy, long-range strategy and financial oversight of the organization and its 700,000 members.
Dorhauer didn’t always have her eyes set on the national stage, though.
During her junior year, she was inspired when a national officer came to Yelm for a chapter visit.
“It was probably one of the best workshops I’ve ever taken, as far as creativity and engagement. I thought, ‘wow, these FFA officers are pretty cool,’” she recalled.
She left the meeting that day more appreciative of the organization, but couldn’t see herself filling those roles.
It wasn’t until after she served with the other state officers, traveling to every corner of Washington and learning about the diverse members of the FFA, that she realized she wanted to do more for the organization.
She wanted to be a national officer.
The interviews to become Washington state’s national candidate came during the national convention. She was in the running against just one other candidate when the committee hosted two rounds of interviews, a knowledge test and a stand-and-deliver event to narrow it down to Dorhauer.
The last interviews happened on May 8, Dorhauer said. After that, there was just a whole lot of waiting.
“There were 15 days of anticipation built up. The entire week before I was really nervous,” Dorhauer said. “I definitely ran outside and did a couple cartwheels in the yard and celebrated with my family.”
On the topic of the state convention going digital, Dorhauer said she was proud that the organization could spread the traditional four-day convention across a month.
“I think a lot of that disappointment that we might have felt at the beginning has kind of gone away and we’ve been able to take this tradition and make some new traditions and reach a wider audience in the future,” she said.
Dorhauer has shown high proficiency on the national stage before.
At the national convention last year, she took first for her work in the employment skills event, also formerly known as interview. She went up against 52 nationally-recognized FFA members.