EAST GREENSBORO, NC (November 17, 2022) – Leila Noufal, a graduate student in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, has been named a recipient of the 2022 American FFA degree, the highest awarded by the National FFA Organization Diploma.
Noufal received this prestigious honor at the 95th National FFA Convention & Expo, which brought more than 60,000 FFA members to Indianapolis. Less than 1% of FFA members earn the American FFA degree.
“This award shows that farming is my passion and that I am an effective advocate for farming,” said Noufal. “It shows that my commitment has been consistent over the years.”
Recipients of the American FFA degree must first have earned their state FFA degree, have been an active FFA member for at least three years, and have completed at least three years of agricultural training. Recipients must also have completed community service and have supervised farming experience, which may include raising crops or livestock, or working in an agribusiness or a research laboratory for a number of years.
FFA members are eligible for graduation 12 months after their high school graduation. They must be requested to be considered.
“Earning the American FFA degree distinguishes each recipient as a hard worker, a planner and a leader – someone who is willing to go beyond their peers in learning, growing and preparing for life,” said Brett Evans, National FFA Education Specialist.
Noufal grew up in Raleigh and joined the FFA in middle school. At Millbrook Magnet High School, she served as vice president of the FFA for two years, led a fundraiser collecting clothing and supplies for immigrant farm workers and their families, and was inducted into her high school’s service club.
At A&T, Noufal is studying agricultural training with a focus on plant and soil science. She also serves as Secretary of the A&T Chapter of the Collegiate Farm Bureau and Miss Poultry Science Club. She met her supervised agricultural experience requirements for her American FFA degree through work.
Noufal is employed as a lab technician on campus and at NC A&T University Farm by Guochen Yang, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design. Last summer, she completed a 10-week internship at A&T’s Cooperative Extension in Franklin County. She has also worked in the farm shop run by Mike and Suzanne Jones at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh. Mike Jones was the 2021 NC Smallholder of the Year.
Noufal plans to complete her bachelor’s degree in 2025 and then pursue a master’s degree in agribusiness. Later, she hopes to teach agriculture in middle school to give back to students like her.
“Being part of the FFA and having this connection to this huge community of people has already been such a privilege,” Noufal said. “Being someone who has an American FFA degree — that’s a whole other level.”