Sophomore McKenzie Hurley attends Microsoft meeting representing FFA

Mary Snapp, McKenzie Hurley, and others all gather together onstage to discuss the “rural broadband gap.”

This month, on December 5, Sophomore McKenzie Hurley received one of the biggest opportunities in her life this month.  It all started when Hurley got back from the National FFA Convention in October. She ran into Allyson Knox, who worked at Microsoft, and had a discussion with her about the expansion of agriculture and technology. Two months later , Hurley’s FFA adviser Taylor Richardson received an email from Knox, inviting Hurley to represent Fauquier County at a Microsoft Panel. Since then, things haven’t been the same.

Hurley said that she had mixed feelings when she heard the news. “I was honestly so excited but shocked,”said Hurley. She had been told by Microsoft that they were looking for someone who had personal experience in rural broadband gap and in FFA  and they believed she was the perfect FFA member for the job.

The Microsoft panel is a reboot of an original idea they had for a panel which they would host to update supporters on their progress. They call it the “Microsoft Airband Initiative.” “I was on panel with two different 4-H Members,”said Hurley, “We were getting questions from Mary Snapp who is the Vice President of Philanthropies at Microsoft.” The panel was hosted in Washington, D.C. at the Reagan Convention Center.

The specific panel Hurley attended was centered around technology in agriculture and the youth’s perspective of the “rural broad gap,” which mission is to prove technology and Internet access to all people in the country from everyday workers to students and farmers.

Hurley said that, surprisingly, she wasn’t scared before or during the panel at all. “I was advocating for something important and I knew the people down there wanted the same thing as me,” said Hurley

Hurley said that after the panel, she felt amazing. “It was an incredibly humbling experience,” said Hurley, “CEOs of different companies, workers of the Governor’s office, and really important people started talking to me and congratulating me.” Hurley also received the opportunity to meet many legislators as well as the president of Microsoft, Brad Smith.

When Hurley returned back home, she said that she has already received so many heart-warming messages from FFA members across the country. She also was interviewed by Ms. Helkowski for a press release,

Hurley is a proud member of FFA and plans on pursuing a career in the in agriculture and FFA. “I hope to someday become executive director of the Fauquier SPCA or got to work with the National FFA Organization,” said Hurley.

Hurley’s hard work and commitment she puts into FFA has definitely paid off and will be a valuable asset for her in the future. Hurley said that she loves FFA and  “the best part […] is getting to serve others as well as your community and being able to have limitless opportunities for the present and the future.”

by Rachel Singleton–Sports Editor