By GEOFF PARKS
For the Capital Press
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Mere hours after Luke Wildhaber was named president of the 2013-14 Oregon State FFA Officer Team during the group's 85th Convention, the blue-and-gold Twitterverse exploded with congratulations from his schoolmates, fellow FFA members and others.
"Congratulations," said one. "I had the honor of being a state officer 40 years ago and I can guarantee you'll never forget the experiences you'll have this next year!"
Wildhaber, of the Dayton High School FFA Chapter, was chosen as state president on the FFA nominating committee's preferred slate of officers and subsequently by the delegates of the statewide FFA chapters. The action took place on the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis over the weekend of March 22-25.
"I know that the title of president can make it seem like you're just the FFA's head honcho or BMOC (Big Man On Campus)," Wildhaber said after he was picked for the year-long position. "But I prefer to be seen as more of a role model than someone with that image."
Wildhaber begins his year-long post with a clear vision of how he wants to be viewed and what he wants to accomplish.
"I want to always be reaching out to others in our organization and reaching down to give a hand up to those who need that," he said.
Tapped for the state vice president position was Sarah Rutledge of Sandy High School, who said the hectic pace of the run-up to the choosing of the FFA's state officer team is a challenge, but a refreshing one.
"We've had to give speeches to the members, participate in interviews by the nominating committee -- I've done about 30 of them, and 10 in just the last three days," she said. She will be participating in leadership camps, facilitate workshops and personal-growth programs and in general, act as Wildhaber's right-hand person as state vice president during the whirlwind that comprises the new team's year of service.
Jessica Roland of Ontario High School was chosen 2013-14 state secretary; Aaron Morland of Newberg was named state treasurer; Remington Frazier of Imbler became the new state reporter and Jacob White of Burns is the new state sentinel.
Maddie Field, current Canby FFA chapter president and one of the nominating committee members for this year, explained how the process of choosing a slate of officers works.
She said there are 12 committee members, one from each Oregon FFA district, who meet on the first day of the state convention to discuss what qualities they want in a slate of state officers.
This year, she said, the committee wanted to see six qualities highlighted in the personalities of the six officers.
"We wanted to see the qualities of motivation, humor, confidence and humility, and to see that they were coachable and personable people," she said, adding that Wildhaber was the obvious first choice of the committee.
On the floor of the auditorium, the statewide delegates chose him with no dissent and plenty of raucous cheers during the March 25 election.
"Luke is so motivated, so passionate and so focused on what he wants that it was clear to us he would be on our slate as president," Field said. "He has humility, yet he commands attention."
Ram Trucks will provide three trucks for the incoming state officers to use as they travel around the state during the upcoming year. The trucks will be sourced through Wilson Motors Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram in Corvallis, who was a co-sponsor for the event held in Corvallis.