On The Record: Janice Eberly

The first female national FFA president discusses her place in FFA history and the ways in which the organization prepared her for a successful future.

New Horizons: You grew up in San Diego County, Calif. Can you talk a little about your FFA activities there?
Janice Eberly: I was involved in FFA with both horticulture and livestock, and later on with leadership responsibilities and public speaking. My family always stood behind me, allowing me to find my own vision while providing enthusiasm and support.

NH: You were the first female state and national FFA president. What impact did that have on the organization?
JE: It was an opportunity to showcase the organization as growing, nimble and changing to prove an opportunity for people who have lots to contribute in many different ways. It was gratifying to me to fill that role, but it was also a reminder that I was representing the talents and aspirations of many others.

NH: How did the skills you learned in FFA translate to your career?
JE: As our national FFA leadership team traveled, we saw different cultures and different families, whether in North Dakota, Puerto Rico or Japan. Being able to talk and listen to a wide range of people and to come together to work intensively with people who are strangers, for the most part, delivered valuable life and workplace skills that are useful every day.

NH: As an FFA alumna with a high-profile career as an economist, you are a role model. How do you approach that responsibility?
JE: I try to project a positive attitude and approach to challenges, recognizing that some experiments are successful and some are not, but you learn from all of them. It is important to apply that to yourself and also to the people around you. Give the people you are working with
the chance to take risks and to grow, as well.

Bio – Janice Eberly
Hometown: Fallbrook, Calif.
FFA Chapter: Fallbrook Union High School FFA
FFA Involvement: Elected the first female national FFA president and California state FFA president
Current Location: Evanston, Ill.
Job Highlights: Currently the James R. and Helen D. Russell professor of finance at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; served as the assistant secretary for economic policy at the U.S. Treasury from 2011 to 2013