By GEOFF PARKS
For the Capital Press
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- The 104 chapters of the Oregon FFA flooded the Oregon State University campus with nearly 2,000 of its members March 22-25, funneling that blue-and-gold vortex of youthful energy into a weekend of purpose.
The event opened with practical sessions for members on public speaking and leadership and ended with the selection of six new Oregon FFA state officers.
In between were the conferring of distinguished service awards, speeches by visiting FFA officers from other states, workshops on leadership and other topics, business presentations, food challenge results; retiring state officers' addresses, and much meeting, greeting, hugging, crying and joyous interaction between the young FFA members.
On March 24, the 2013 Stars Over Oregon were announced. Austyn Polzel of Hood River Valley took the State Star in Agribusiness Award, sponsored by Goschie Farms and Harvest Capital, while Erik Davies of Crane was named the Star Farmer, sponsored by Specialty Seeds of Oregon and Wilco Co-op.
Nolan Smith of Willamina was given the State Star in Agricultural Placement Award, sponsored by Folin Vineyards and Les Schwab Tires, and Katie Fuller of Clackamas took the State Star in Agriscience Award, sponsored by Oregon FFA Alumni and VSI.
While the speaking events, workshops and other events called for precision, focus and teamwork, some of the activities during the four-day confab called for a little after-event celebration.
Luis Mendoza of the Molalla FFA Chapter was spotted dancing around the outdoor patio area of the LaSells Stewart Center wearing a second-place felt banner like a cape. It was given to him and his two co-workers -- Carl Beyer and Ashley Alexander -- for their work helping Snowline Tree Farm of Molalla develop a marketing plan for its new community-supported agriculture -- CSA -- program but the three wanted to celebrate the win in the sun.
"We made it to the semifinals as one of the top four teams in the state," Alexander said. They took second to the Scio FFA Chapter's No. 1 effort.
The FFA marketing team was hired to increase the community knowledge of Snowline Tree Farm's CSA program to add to its customer base, Alexander said. The team detailed its strengths and weaknesses and developed "Measurable and Attainable Goals" and a "Target Market" for the business, as well as a new logo and a projected budget.
The real-world experience gained by the three through their efforts with the Molalla business were invaluable learning experiences, the three agreed.
"We focused on advertising and were trying to help them expand their subscriber base from Molalla to Portland," she said.