COVINGTON — Dozens of dignitaries and hundreds of youngsters wearing the signature blue jacket of FFA-FCCLA gathered Tuesday morning to dedicate a new facility in honor of a man who is a leader in agricultural education in Georgia. State leaders — including Gov. Nathan Deal — joined local elected officials and residents in dedicating the new leadership center at the FFA-FCCLA Center in Newton County to state Rep. Terry England of Auburn, who serves as chairman of the Appropriations Committee and co-chair of the Agricultural Education Advisory Committee and is a member of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Education, Industry and Labor, Natural Resources and Environment and Ways and Means committees. Gov. Deal, who arrived at the FFA- FCCLA Center via helicopter shortly after 11:30 a.m., recalled visiting the camp as a youngster with his father, who was an ag education teacher. As a member of FFA, Deal said he developed his public speaking skills and took part in local, state, regional and national competitions. “This has been a place for great victories,” Deal said of those competitions. “It has also been a place for defeats and for learning to deal with defeats and learning to see the positive side of your own dreams and your own plans not being fulfilled, to understand that maybe somebody beyond you has a plan for your future that you don’t even comprehend.” Deal also spoke of the resilience of ag education and programs like FFA, FCCLA and 4-H, which have adapted to meet the changing needs of youngsters over the years. “Great leaders have been produced by virtue of the experiences and the training that they have received in FFA, in FCCLA, and in other related type organizations,” said Deal. “We are in the business of training young people. This facility does it about as good as any I have seen, and I think it has not only a great past behind it, but in my opinion, a very, very bright future.” Deal thanked England for his continued support of ag education. “I can’t think of anyone that it is more appropriate to name this facility for,” said Deal. “Young people in years to come will hopefully be told the story of why it bears your name. It will be a story that is well worth repeating.” England said the tribute was humbling “to the point I don’t really know what to say.” He credited FFA with taking him as a shy middle-schooler in Barrow County and helping him develop leadership and public speaking skills. “FFA gave me the opportunity to learn how to stand in front of people and speak,” said England. “It gave me the opportunity to learn to be a better friend, showed me how to be a better husband, a better son and a better person. My hope is that for decades and generations to come that this facility here recreates the memories that some of the buildings down the hill have created for me.” The Terry England Leadership Center is a 20,000-square-foot facility featuring a 14,000-square-foot room that will seat as many as 1,400 people or 750 for banquet dining. Todd Teasley, director of development and leadership at the FFA Center, has said the meeting space is the largest in the surrounding area. The center was funded through a $9.5 million appropriation in the state budget in 2015. In addition to the center, the funding will help construct a new dining hall, which is expected to be completed next May.

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