Placer FFA Officers Caleb Porter, Holly Hockett,Jacob Parker, Heidi Wolken, Elaina Lewis, Jennifer Fisk, and Carlos Sahagun pose for a group picture in front of the FFA emblem made entirely out of seeds.
Placer High School FFA holds its own little piece of history, and no one is looking to give it up because of its unique character and inspiring story.
On the back wall of the Ag science classroom sits a framed FFA emblem made entirely out of seeds, hand placed by a Japanese-American student in the early 1940’s.
“I’m glad we have it at Placer and not in a museum because it allows our students to learn a little more about FFA history,” said Placer FFA advisor Shannon Browning.
The history behind the emblem is truly what makes it shine with historical value. During the 1940’s, Placer High School was the only school in the county and the student population was primarily composed of the sons and daughters of local farmers and ranchers. Of these students, there was a large number of Japanese-Americans.
During World War II, there was a widespread panic directed at the Japanese race and many were sent to internment camps to prevent anti-US espionage. Of those sent to the internment camps, there were many Placer families that had to pack their bags and leave until the end of the war. One family was the Kurahara family.
The Kurahara family owned a local orchard, and with no one there to maintain the trees, they would surely lose their livelihood and return to their home in poverty and despair. However, the Agriculture teacher at the time, Frank Benito, did not see this fit and took action.
Benito moved himself and his family out of their home, and relocated to the Kurahara orchard. The Benito family took care of the orchard until the end of the war, a sacrifice not many would be willing to make, and when the Kurahara family returned, they were able to pick up where they left off. Thanks to the Benito’s; this Japanese-American family came home to a sustained orchard and a peace of mind.
As a thank you, R Kurahara created the seed emblem that still hangs in the Placer agriculture room today. It took him approximately 400 hours to hand place each and every sugar beet, corn, safflower, and sunflower seed that comes together to form the beautiful mural.
The emblem is a constant reminder to Placer agriculture students that kindness, hard work, dedication, and taking action are time honored traditions at Placer High School. It inspires anyone who knows the story to go above and beyond, a feat that R Kurahara surely could not have anticipated.
“I’m really glad we have something like it at our school. I don’t think there is another school around that has something like that” said Browning.
Placer truly is blessed to have this historical emblem in our possession. Because of it, Placer agriculture students truly do “believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds,” (E.M. Tiffany, 1930).