SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Over more than four decades Frank Dry has impacted thousands of students as an agricultural teacher and the associate executive secretary of the Illinois FFA Association.

At the National FFA Convention, set for Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, Dry will be one of seven receiving the VIP citation from the National FFA Organization to recognize his significant contributions to the FFA and agricultural education.

“This is quite a tribute to him and his service,” said Jim Craft, executive secretary of the Illinois FFA Association. “This is a tremendous honor because only a limited number of industry and agricultural education people receive it each year.”

Dry retired from his position as the associate executive secretary of the Illinois FFA Association on Dec. 31, 2012.

“Frank was actively involved and provided leadership and guidance to students preparing for their American degree and the national officer candidates,” noted Craft, who worked with Dry at the FFA Center since 1990.

“Working at the FFA Center is a blessing because we come in contact with so many students,” he said. “Our job is to help them move on, and Frank did that quietly and with great success.”

“I didn’t expect this award,” Dry admitted. “I’m honored to be recognized for the years of service and activities I’ve done to contribute to agricultural education at the state and national levels.”

Dry has been involved with the agricultural industry his entire life. He was raised on a small family farm near Pinckneyville, and he was involved in the ag program in high school and a member of the FFA chapter where he served as the chapter president.

He continued his interest in the FFA by becoming an active member of the collegiate FFA chapter at Southern Illinois University. Dry completed both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural education at SIU.

“Becoming an ag teacher was one of my career choices from when I was in high school,” he said. “I always admired my high school ag teacher, Louis Templeton. He was a lot of the influence for me to decide to be an ag teacher.”

Dry started his teaching career at Carlyle. However, he only taught there for part of the year and then was drafted into the Army in March 1971. After completing three years of service in the Army, Dry taught agriculture and led FFA chapters at LeRoy, Nashville and Marengo.

“I took the job as associate executive secretary of the Illinois FFA Association in July 1985,” Dry said.

Working with students has provided Dry with lots of great memories.

“I was lucky enough to have the Star Farmer of Illinois as a student when I was a teacher — that was certainly memorable,” he said. “And working at the FFA Center, working with officers that went on to be national officers is certainly a high point.”

Dry was the teacher at Marengo when Jeff Maierhofer was a state FFA officer.

“He was on chapter visits then,” the award winner recalled. “Now to see his success not only as an ag teacher, but as a leader in agricultural education on both the state and national level has been great.”

Working with the Illinois FFA Foundation also was a part of Dry’s responsibilities.

“During the Illinois Foundation banquet it was mentioned that during my tenure, I had raised over $9 million for the foundation,” he said. “I didn’t realize the extent of money raised over the years.”

At the national level, Dry has been involved in several activities. He served on the National FFA Foundation Board of Directors, and he was a member of the National FFA Foundation Executive Committee.

“I spent 17 years as the assistant manager of the National FFA Extemporaneous Public Speaking CDE and 11 years as a facilitator for one of the national FFA star selection committees,” he said.

Dry is looking forward to attending the national convention since two of the other VIP citation recipients are friends he has known for many years.

“I’ve known Dr. Cliff Ricketts since he started teaching at Middle Tennessee State University,” he said. “And I worked with Mr. Chidani with the Future Farmers of Japan when we hosted the FFJ members not long after I started at the FFA Center.”

Now that he is retired, Dry said, he is enjoying extra time with his grandchildren.

Dry and his wife, Shirley, are the parents of two daughters. Melissa is married to Ben Poletti, and they have two daughters and are expecting a baby at the end of the month.

Julie is married to Joe Huelsmann, and they have three children. Both Melissa and Julie were active members of their FFA chapters while in high school, Dry added.

“It has been an honor to serve agricultural education in Illinois,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed meeting all the teachers and students that I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the years.”