Staff Reporter 

Cheney grad: "A lot of hard work paid off"

Local CHS FFA member earns prestigious, national award


February 7, 2019

Rising through the ranks in any organization is a feat of endurance, determination and perseverance. That’s particularly true when the organization is the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and you’ve proven yourself worthy of a rare national award granted only to those exhibiting singular dedication and commitment.

This is the case for Kelci Scharff, a 2017 graduate of Cheney High School who earned the highly sought-after National Degree from the FFA and was presented with the award at the organization’s 2018 National Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Ind. in October.

Scharff joined FFA her freshman year of high school following a stint in the local 4-H club, she said. She called the step “a natural progression,” particularly since her father had been active in FFA in his youth.

“Getting the degree is kind of crazy — it was something I saw older kids doing as a little freshman and now to have done it myself is exciting,” Scharff said.

According to the FFA website, the National Degree is awarded to less than 1 percent of the FFA’s nearly 670,000 members. Students must first earn a green hand degree, then a chapter degree and finally a state FFA degree before becoming eligible for the prestigious National Degree.

Cheney FFA adviser Allen Skoog said Scharff was the FFA president for three years, earning her state FFA degree as a junior. Scharff also held the state FFA reporter position for a year, serving Washington’s 10,000-plus FFA members.

“Kelci Scharff was the best FFA President I’ve had in 25 years,” Skoog said in an email.  

Students seeking a National Degree must log 540 hours of an agricultural education program or 360 hours of systematic agricultural education, and complete at least 2,250 hours of agricultural experience outside of regular class time. Fifty hours of community service spread between three different activities are also required, as is a “C” average in their regular school studies while meeting all FFA requirements.

And don’t forget the business and leadership element in which the applicant must exhibit “comprehensive planning and managerial and financial expertise,” earning at least $10,000 and “productively” investing $7,500.

Scharff grew up on a small cattle ranch in rural Spokane County, raising her own herd of cattle and showing them at various fairs and shows around the region. She also served as an ambassador for the Junior Livestock Show of Spokane and the Spokane County Cattlemen Association.

“Leadership, follow-through, and helping to make others better by giving them the capacity to excel are what stand out to me regarding Kelci,” Skoog said. “She led with kindness and a smile.”

Scharff now attends Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. Originally she majored in animal science, but after careful reflection she recently changed her major to nursing, she said.

Scharff’s bubbly personality can be heard even over the phone as she laughs about the journey she’s taken to get to where she is now.

“It was really fun,” she said. “And a lot of hard work paid off.”

Shannen Talbot can be reached at


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