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{ 4 }  SNJ Today  |  SEPTEMBER 28, 2022                                                                                                                                                                                                                    SEPTEMBER 28, 2022  |  { 5 }
          IN OUR SCHOOLS

 New State FFA Officers Active with Visits
 as School Year Begins

                                                                            Congratulations to

                                                                            Vineland Marching Band
                                                                               Congratulations to the Vineland High
                                                                            School Marching Band and new Director
                                                                            Justin Feliciano, pictured at right, on
                                                                            a first-place finish in the Firemen’s
                                                                            Memorial Day Parade two weeks ago in
                                                                            the Wildwoods.

                                                                           Miss Shore Resort                   stigma of mental illness and transforming
                                                                           2023 Isabelle Nicholas              it into a tool for empowerment.
                                                                                                                 “Using my story for progress rather
   The 2022-2023 New Jersey FFA officer team elected as part of the 93rd Annual State   Advocates for Mental   than letting it control me has been huge
 FFA Convention has been active visiting chapters around the state as the new school year                      for helping me deal with my mental health
 has started. The officers also represent New Jersey FFA at several state and national func-  Health Awareness  challenges,” she declared. “But it’s not
 tions throughout the year.                                                  In the current climate, the signifi-  always easy and I still struggle.”
   The new officers with the chapters they represent are Jonathan Finney (Salem Tech),   cance of mental health is becoming more   Remarkably, one major platform
 State President; Loriann De Sousa Rego, (East Brunswick), State Vice President; Chase   prominent in everyday discourse. Isabelle   Nicholas is utilizing to spread awareness
 Sherburne, State Secretary (Salem Tech); Alexis Stretch-Huff, State Treasurer (Salem   Nicholas, administrative specialist of   is the Miss America Organization (MAO).
 Tech).                                                                    student life at Rowan College of South   In July, she was named First Runner-Up
   “Part of FFA’s motto is ‘living to serve’ and is what drives officers to have a vested inter-  Jersey’s (RCSJ) Cumberland campus, has   to Miss New Jersey 2022. Nicholas, who
 est in each of the local chapters,” said New Jersey State FFA Advisor and Food, Agriculture   been candid about her own experiences   entered the event as the reigning Miss
 and Natural Resources Education Program Leader Erin Noble. “With our FFA member-  with mental health and is using high pro-  Shore Resort, won the Talent Award
 ship being at an all-time high, we want to foster the relationships we have all around the   file platforms to spread awareness about   singing the opera song “Deh Vieni, Non
 state to allow each member the opportunity for an exceptionally valuable experience. We   this relevant subject.     Tardar” from Le Nozze di Figaro.
 are anticipating a great 2022-23.”                                          “I have major depressive disorder and   “Scholarship is the main reason why I
   FFA is a component of a food, agriculture and natural resources program of instruction   generalized anxiety disorder,” she said.   wanted to participate,” she said. “In addi-
 that prepares students to pursue fulfilling careers in the business, science, education and   “When I was younger, I was able to talk   tion, it’s a really good way to increase your
 technology of agriculture. There are more than 2,900 FFA members in 36 chapters in New   to my parents [about mental health], but   network to gain sisterhood and to also
 Jersey and more than 850,000 members across the nation.                   there was a significant period of time   really develop yourself as a professional.”
   Some of the state officer duties include assisting chapters in the execution of their pro-  when I suffered in silence. I started going   “They got rid of the swimsuit. They
 gram of activities; encouraging FFA members to participate in food, agriculture and natural   to therapy at 20 years old. That was a big   focused more on the professional devel-
 resources education and FFA programs; maintaining positive relations with members, the   help for me.”        opment side,” she explained. “Because of
 agribusiness sector, the public and others interested in agricultural education; traveling to   Nicholas, 23, is the host of a podcast she   these changes, I felt like that was a place
 FFA chapters around the state 2-3 times per month; assisting at career development events,   created called “Shout Our Struggle,” which   that would welcome me and something
 including fall, spring, and summer; and representing the New Jersey FFA Association at   focuses on the ways community members   that wouldn’t necessarily be upsetting
 events of other state agricultural organizations.                         can better prepare themselves to respond   to different triggers in my life, like body
   For more information about New Jersey Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources   to people suffering through mental health   image.”
 Education and the state FFA program visit Also   challenges. “I bring [on] guests who have   “I think that’s something a lot of
 keep up to date with New Jersey FFA news on Facebook at,   experienced different mental health situa-  women can relate to,” she continued. “I’m
 Twitter at and Instagram at  tions and people of different backgrounds,   susceptible to body image issues, and it’s
   For information about the national FFA program visit      so it can be a well-informed tool to help   something that a lot of women suffer from
                                                                           educate our communities,” she explained.     in society.”
 From left, with position and FFA chapter, Alexis Stretch-Huff, State Treasurer (Salem Tech); Loriann   Nicholas, an alumna of James   Nicholas was able to share her Shout
 De Sousa Rego, (East Brunswick), State Vice President; Jonathan Finney (Salem Tech), State   Madison University who earned bach-  Our Struggle social impact initiative to a
 President; Chase Sherburne, State Secretary (Salem Tech).                 elor’s degrees in Musical Theater and   wide-ranging audience at the competition.
                                                                           Spanish, is intent on rising above the   “It focused on mental health response, but
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