Adam Cope’s reaction the first time he saw the 12-page application for the National FFA Organization proficiency awards was probably typical of most high school sophomores.
“It seemed like a lot of work, and I didn’t know if it would pay off or not,” Cope recalled.
“I kept telling him just get it done this year,” Marion-Florence FFA chapter adviser Mark Meyer said. “After he got it done, all he had to do was add to it and update it after that.”
“Mark was a big help with the application,” Cope said.
The work didn’t pay off Cope’s sophomore year, and again his junior year, when both times he was beaten at the district level. Cope never wavered when submitting his application once again as a senior.
“I figured I came that far along, there wasn’t ever a doubt of quitting,” Cope said.
Cope continued to revise his application each year, receiving feedback from a number of different people with whom Meyer shared his application.
“I probably changed my application five times that last year, just tweaking it for other people,” Cope said. “I finally realized I had to just get across what I learned and experienced and put it in my own words.”
This past spring, Cope won the district competition, and followed that by winning the Kansas state completion in the Beef Production Placement category.
“Mark told me last spring after I won state to keep my plans open for the last part of October because he was pretty confident of me going to nationals,” Cope said. “I kind of blew it off, I didn’t really believe him.”
Cope became a believer in the summer one day when he was working and he received a call from Meyer informing him he was one of four national finalists.
“It was neat when I got to call him and say, ‘I told you so,’” Meyer said.
Cope’s success came as a result of his work at Doyle Creek Land and Cattle Company ranch near Florence, under the watchful eye of his father, ranch foreman Clint Cope.
“He’s grown up there. The ranch has employed him since he was 14, and the project came out of his employment on the ranch,” Clint said. “Adam was involved in every phase of our operation, from calving heifers to feeding cows, to vaccinating cows, to fixing fence and cutting trees, to putting up hay. He was involved in almost every aspect.”
“I learned a lot from him,” Adam said about working with his father. “Everything I do is pretty much based off him, but I like to try stuff, and he’s given me the opportunity to do that and broaden my experience.”
The two sometimes had disagreements, Adam said.
“We don’t always agree, not really clash heads, but you know how it is, a father-son deal,” Adam said. “For the most part it’s been a great experience and I learned a lot.”
Cope was among 50,000 FFA members, advisers, and family members who descended on Indianapolis, Ind. this past week for FFA National Convention.
The convention is a busy time for attendees, but Thursday was a whirlwind day of activities for national-finalist Cope as he competed for the championship.
The day included a photo session, meeting with sponsors, and introductions to the three other finalists. All four were recognized at a luncheon for proficiency finalists in all 47 categories of competition.
“You work that hard to get there, and there were some big names there at the luncheon. It was really neat,” Cope said.
Interviews of the finalists followed the luncheon.
“It was pretty straightforward,” Cope said. “They asked you questions off the application, asked you questions like what you thought the future market might be, and what your views were on some global topics in the beef industry.”
Cope found out he was a runner-up Friday when competition winners were revealed at a general session.
Cope, now a freshmen at Kansas State University majoring in animal science industry and production management, said the entire experience was a good one, and recommended other FFA members submit their applications for future award competitions.
“Stick with it, work hard, and it will pay off,” Cope said.