PENDER, Neb. | According to its website, the National FFA Organization's mission is to help students grow through leadership and agricultural education.
The Peters family in Pender certainly has the leadership part down.
Current Pender High School FFA chapter president Braden Peters is a third-generation chapter president and the fifth person in his family to hold that title.
"We just really appreciate the organization. It aligns well with our beliefs," said Braden, the 17-year-old son of Matt and Pam Peters.
The Peters family tradition began with Braden's grandfather Roger Peters, who was president in 1966-67. It passed down to father Matt in 1987-88. Then came Braden's older brothers, Brant in 2008-10 and Logan in 2010-12. His brothers were the first in Pender history to serve two, one-year terms.
So as Braden entered high school and got involved with FFA, he naturally set his sights on someday holding the chapter's highest office.
"I've always had that goal after seeing my brothers be president. It is something my family takes pride in," he said.
His brothers also joked with him that he had a family tradition to uphold.
"There was some unspoken pressure from my brothers," Braden, a senior, said with a laugh.
The selection process is a combination of submitting an application, sitting through interviews and a vote by chapter members. At a special meeting in May, Braden was announced as the next president.
Braden said he was happy to achieve his goal and honored that the chapter trusted him to be its leader.
"It was just really fulfilling when they announced my name as president," Braden said.
The president oversees the chapter, conducts meetings and performs several other organizational tasks. Braden said with all the former presidents in his family, there are plenty of people to ask for advice. Especially helpful is dad Matt, who remains an active volunteer with the chapter while running the family's farm, on which they raise cattle and grow corn, soybeans and alfalfa.
"It's just really, really helpful, having my dad to draw upon, get his opinion," Braden said. "Sometimes I use him to bounce ideas off of."
From the sound of it, Braden's doing just fine on his own. While giving articulate, thoughtful answers to interview questions, he believes that FFA and the leadership roles it has presented have helped him become a confident public speaker. He's also comfortable being in front of people after the many meetings, banquets and conventions he's attended.
"It presents a lot of opportunities for me," he said. "I'm sure my brothers wouldn't have been involved in things in college as much if it wouldn't have been for FFA. It's an overall good organization in the way it promotes leadership and agriculture."
His brother Brant is an ag teacher and FFA adviser in Schuyler, Nebraska. Brother Logan is moving to Idaho for a job soon. Up next for Braden is college, where he plans to major in engineering.
With his family's longtime involvement in FFA, the question, naturally, becomes: will there be a fourth generation of the family to lead the Pender chapter? Braden playfully puts the responsibility of providing a fourth-generation Peters president on his brothers.
"I'm the youngest," he said. "If there's going to be another Peters FFA Pender president, it's going to have to be one of my brothers' kids if they move back."