Courtesy of Rusty Finch
CASHMERE, Wash. — Cashmere High School FFA placed first at the FFA National Convention in Indianapolis, Oct. 27 for the first time.
The team of Jade Jaspers, Isaiah Hall, Hunter Duke and Lizzy Carney won first place out of teams from 41 states in Environmental and Natural Resources. Jaspers was also the individual national champion in that category. Hall was fourth and Duke was eighth out of 162 students.
The school’s team of Reilly Schoening, Dani Monroe, Rhiannon Strutzel and Grace Kelly placed second out of teams from 36 states in Food Science, with Schoening placing sixth and Monroe placing 10th out of 144 students.
“It was our first national championship and our fourth time placing second. Our kids were highly motivated. Both categories are part of our curriculum and they wanted to represent their state well,” said Rusty Finch, Cashmere High School FFA advisor.
The other Western chapters to win championships were Frontier High School, Bakersfield, Calif., in Horse Evaluation and Liberty Ranch High School, Sacramento County, Calif., in Parliamentary Procedure.
Finch said it was one of his top two showings of 19 years of taking teams to nationals.
“They’re a great group of kids. Highly focused and worked well. They made good use of their time and are pleasant and easy to deal with. It’s nice to see this happen for a deserving group of kids,” he said.
The competition included written tests and problem-solving.
The Environmental and Natural Resources team completed a water quality test, demonstrated the use of GPS and identified wildlife and natural resources field equipment, Finch said. They also evaluated a plot of land and made recommendations to prevent soil erosion.
The Food Science team had to develop, create and present a new food product. Julie Neil, a USDA food inspector from Puyallup, helped coach the Food Science team.
There were nearly 30 categories of competition, from livestock judging to public speaking.
Cashmere High School FFA has 120 student members. Finch said winning a national championship will make recruitment easier.
“It keeps the snowball rolling,” he said. “It encourages more kids to take a shot and participate. I’m a true believer that kids deep down want to compete.”