By David Carlino, CNLP, FFA Advisor, Assumption High School
When Chackbay native Sadie Granier Phelps began her association with the FFA in a small classroom at East Thibodeaux Junior High, little did she know at the time what the future would hold for her. Mr. Danny Quebedeaux stood at the front of the room talking about horses, livestock, leadership development, speaking competitions, and many other opportunities that the kids in his class could be a part of. It all sounded so exciting. Sadie took a chance and paid her $8 dues that set her down the path that would soon become her career.
After Mr. Quebedeaux laid the foundation for Sadie, she made the natural transition to Thibodaux High school where Mr. Bobby Arceneaux continued pushing her to be her best. As graduation neared and thoughts inevitably turned to deciding on a future career, Sadie’s choice was fairly clear. The impact that these two FFA Advisors had on her inspired her to pursue a degree in Agriculture Education at LSU. She completed her bachelor’s degree in 2001, and her Masters Degree in 2007. Despite her time in Baton Rouge, the call of the bayou is strong and Sadie returned to Lafourche Parish to begin her teaching career at South Lafourche High School. In 2002 an opportunity to move closer to her family presented itself when the Assumption High School FFA had an opening. She joined the department and has enjoyed her 16th year as one of the Agriscience teachers there.
Sadie married her high school sweetheart, Corey Phelps, bought 10 acres of land in the Labadieville/Napoleonville area of Assumption Parish and began a small cow/calf operation to compliment her teaching at Assumption High School. As her experience in the classroom grew so did her passion for FFA and agriculture. She recognized the need for advocates of agriculture and began her service towards that endeavor. In 2005 she was awarded the Louisiana Agriscience Teachers Association’s Outstanding Young Teacher Award. She also won the Louisiana and the National Association of Agricultural Educators regional “Teachers Turn the Key” award which recognized outstanding performance of young agriculture teachers. In 2006 she was named State Winner of the Louisiana Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher Excellence in Agriculture Award. 2008 saw more recognition of Sadie’s tireless work for agriculture as she was named the Louisiana Farm Bureau’s Outstanding Young Farm Woman.
Sadie’s desire to be a part of the solution to the problems facing agriculture and FFA, along with the drive instilled in her by her parents, Claire and Vernon Granier, inspired her to pursue a leadership role in the Louisiana Agriscience Teacher’s Association in 2011. She started in the officer rotation by serving as the Area IV (Southeast Region) Vice President at large. Working her way through the ranks led her to this year where she will finish out her term by serving as the organization’s third woman president since its inception in 1932. She presided over the LATA conference on July 24 -26 in Vidalia, LA. Her time in the LATA has allowed Sadie to represent Louisiana agriscience teachers on several important state and national committees whose purpose is to advocate for agriculture.
Along the way, Sadie continued to push her students in the classroom and the FFA by challenging them to be their best. The numerous FFA state banners in veterinary science, dairy cattle evaluation, livestock evaluation, horse evaluation, poultry evaluation, public speaking, FFA creed speaking, and geaux teach agriculture hang on the walls in her classroom as a testament to the time and dedication that she and her students invested in career development. If you walk inside her classroom today, in the middle of the student’s summer break, you will find a maze of all things poultry. There are hangers for carcasses, egg crates, candling equipment, and dog kennels with shavings to transport live birds. While most teachers enjoy a summer break free from the mental strain of teaching preparation and instruction, Sadie, as a twelve month Agriscience teacher, is busy preparing her lesson for the day. She is hanging and cutting chicken carcasses, candling interior eggs, evaluating the exterior of another dozen, and meticulously comparing defects against official gauges to ensure that her team gets it right. These summer practices are in preparation for the National FFA Poultry Evaluation Career Development Event held in October. The contest is held in conjunction with National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. And she does all of this while preparing for the summer conference for over 200 of her peers.
As if this wasn’t enough to do by itself Sadie somehow finds time to be a mother to Sydney, Ava and Cooper and a loving wife to her husband Corey. When she finishes her time at school she hops into her “mom mobile” and does the shopping, cooking, shuttling of kids from daycare, music lessons, and community softball. Somewhere along the way she manages to pick up feed to satisfy the needs of her show steers, horses, chickens, cat and new dog. With skill that would make a flight control officer on a nuclear aircraft carrier jealous, she arranges hair appointments, doctor visits, trips to the vet, lawn care, bathroom renovations and poultry practices with her very close friend, Connie Crochet (CC to her kids).
There is an old tattered and torn poster that hangs in my classroom that was put up by one of my predecessors, Mr. James Hubbell. In an effort to motivate his students to do their best he wrote this simple yet powerful message, “It is difficult to BE perfect. It’s more difficult to BEAT perfect. Try for perfect.” I can’t express how much I admire the time, hard work, dedication and commitment to not only our FFA program here at Assumption High, but to agriculture in general that Sadie Phelps gives on a daily basis. This is only a partial list of what she does. To list them all would be about the size of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. She is the engine that drives our program forward and continues to push me to try for perfect. How she does what she does with only 24 hours in a day is nothing short of a miracle.
It has been and continues to be my privilege to call her my coworker, but more accurately, my friend.