Ag Leader in the Making

Charleigh Wood a Rising Star With Sights Set on a Future in Ag


FFA was founded in 1925 to promote and support agricultural education in middle schools and high schools across the country. Now, nearly 100 years later, it continues to be a leading organization for youth in agriculture.

One young FFA member who’s been making a name for herself here in Polk County is Charleigh Wood. An 18-year-old senior at George Jenkins High School, she’s had a passion for agriculture from a young age, thanks in part to her parents’ backgrounds. Her mom, Tamara Wood, has worked for the Florida citrus industry for 20 years, while her father, Tim Wood, is the eastern U.S. manager for Agro-K, a manufacturer of crop nutritionals and biologicals. 

Before getting involved in FFA, Charleigh Wood was an avid member of 4-H. It gave her a great foundation in agriculture, and she eagerly joined FFA at Dade City Middle School. There, she ran for chapter president and won. Her term was cut short when she had to move to Lakeland and attend Lakeland Highlands Middle. 

Wood was worried she wouldn’t find the same fervor for agriculture in Lakeland as she’d found in Dade City. Instead, Lakeland turned out to be just the environment she needed in order to thrive.

“I didn’t know if there would be an ag class or not. But when I discovered there was one in my eighth-grade year, I got back into it and ran for office again and was named vice president of my chapter there,” she explains. 

With the Lakeland Highlands FFA, Wood built chicken coops, participated in leadership events, and more, which helped her prepare for FFA at George Jenkins High School.

“I was super excited that I was going to be able to be a part of my high school FFA chapter, knowing that George Jenkins has really good teachers like Mr. Sweeney and Mr. Carlton,” she says. “I automatically fell in love with my teachers and the program.”

Wood has been extremely active at the George Jenkins FFA chapter, participating in livestock judging and public speaking, winning state championships in forestry and land judging, and receiving other honors, including the Chapter Greenhand Award, Chapter Degree Award, and a State FFA Degree — the highest degree a state association can bestow upon a member. 

Outside of FFA, she has also won several scholarships thanks to her knowledge of and passion for agriculture.

To say Tamara Wood is pleased with her daughter’s accomplishments would be an understatement. 

“I could not be more proud of all the work that she’s done in FFA and everything she’s accomplished. The leadership that she’s shown, the relationships that she’s built, the example she has set for younger students. All the awards that she’s won have been phenomenal, but the best part of the experience has been seeing the growth that she’s had,” Tamara says. “I’m also extremely excited to see her as another young woman coming into the agricultural industry and I can’t wait to see the mark she leaves on it.”

Jessica Anderson, Assistant Director of Agriculture for Polk County Public Schools, echoes that pride.

“Charleigh is an exceptional student who exemplifies the characteristics agricultural educators hope to instill in their students,” says Anderson. “Her work ethic and drive are unmatched by her peers; she makes others feel welcome, especially younger children; and she strives to share her passion for agriculture with those around her.”

Anderson goes on to say Wood is just the type of leader the agriculture industry needs.

“I look forward to seeing all that she accomplishes in the future.”

Wood plans to study Animal Science with a focus in Pre Vet Medicine at UF and hopes to work as a large and small animal vet. 

Reflecting on her own experience, she urges younger FFA members to build relationships and seek the guidance of the older, more seasoned members.

“They can offer tips and tricks to being successful and offer advice if you’re struggling,” she says. “FFA is about family, and that’s what I think about when I think about FFA”

Accessibility Toolbar