Elizabeth Hayes of Marysville has been named a finalist for an American Star Award from the National FFA Organization.

Elizabeth Hayes of Marysville has been named a finalist for an American Star Award from the National FFA Organization.

Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, four FFA members are honored with an American Star award for outstanding accomplishments in FFA and agricultural education. The award is the most prestigious honor awarded to a student by the National FFA organization.

The American Star awards -- including the American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience -- are awarded to FFA members who demonstrate outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through completion of a supervised agricultural experience. A required activity in FFA, a supervised agriculture experience allows students to learn by doing by either owning and operating an agricultural business, working or serving an internship at an agriculture-based business or conducting an agriculture-based scientific experiment and reporting results.

The Ohio FFA submitted Hayes'horse-training business successes as her supervised agricultural experience in FFA, resulting in her selection as a finalist.

Other requirements to achieve the award include demonstrating top management skills; completing key agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements; and earning an American FFA Degree, the organization's highest level of student accomplishment.

Sixteen American Star award finalists from throughout the U.S. are nominated for a panel of judges to interview during the convention. Four are named winners and receive cash awards totaling $4,000. All American Star finalists receive a $2,000 cash award.

A formerly world-ranked competitor, Hayes' years of dedication led her to start her own business training clients' horses for competition.

"When I was growing up, my mother was a barn manager for many horse trainers so I was lucky enough to be able to work with professional horse trainers every day," Hayes said.

"In 2010, I placed in the top 10 at the All American Quarter Horse Congress and qualified for the world championships for my age group. When people saw my success in the show ring, they came to me for help and guidance with their horses."

Hayes, 19, is a member of the Marysville High School FFA chapter. She is enrolled at the University of Findlay, majoring in western equestrian studies and animal sciences.

She is the daughter of Laura and Tim Hayes.