Years of effort pay off for newest state leader
By TERENCE L. DAY
For the Capital Press
PULLMAN, Wash. -- Cole Snider decided as a freshman attending his first state FFA convention that he wanted to become the organization's state president.
Saturday the Enumclaw High School student was elected to the office at the 82nd state convention.
"I came here my freshman year and was overwhelmed. Everybody was so outgoing and motivated and striving for perfection and I really enjoyed that," he told the Capital Press. "I felt that (running for president) was something I had to do. I had to at least try."
Part of the electoral process involves giving a campaign speech. "I wrote the first part of that right after my first state convention" three years ago, he said.
Snider plans to become an agricultural adviser. After graduating from high school a year from now, he plans to attend Walla Walla Community College for two years, then transfer to Washington State University or Texas A&M for an ag degree.
About 2,300 students, teachers and parents attended three days of jam-packed activities centered in Washington State University's Beasley Coliseum on May 10-12 as the Washington FFA had its 82nd convention.
Outgoing FFA President Sammi Jo Cool, of Chelan, believes agriculture has a strong future in Washington and she plans to be a part of it. Although she grew up in Chelan, she has worked on her grandparents' and uncle's and aunt's wheat and cattle operation near Bridgeport.
There, she has helped pick rocks from wheat fields and helped sort, doctor and brand cattle. She sees her future in owning and operating a genetic consulting firm in which she will specialize in artificial insemination and in-vitro reproduction.
She will enroll this fall at Walla Walla Community College, where she will pursue a two-year degree in animal science production transfer, then go to Washington State University, where she plans to double major in animal science with an emphasis in reproductive physiology and animal nutrition.
Cool said her year as state president has been "absolutely an amazing experience. I've put over 25,000 miles on my car this year. I've grown a lot as a person ... become a stronger leader and a stronger advocate for agriculture."
Her hope for FFA is that it will continue to grow with more chapters and more opportunities for students. She wants the world to know that "the FFA is not all cows and plows and hicks and chicks." It is a training ground that prepares young people for "real life," whether for jobs or for college.
In addition to Snider, the FFA elected:
* Jacob Barth, of Quincy, vice president.
* Damen Jeg, of Chehalis, secretary.
* Jordan Smith, of North Thurston, treasurer.
* Brandon Knodel, of Lind, sentinel.
* David Stitt, of Monroe, reporter.
Paige Druffel, Pullman, was selected as Washington state's candidate for national office. Those officers will be elected at the national convention. Druffel also received a state degree certificate.
Jacob Barth received the District Agribusiness Star Award; Braydon Westhoff, of Ferndale, and Jeremy Bagwell, of Yelm, received Placement Stars.
Barth's entry involved raising high quality lambs and show hogs, which he has sold to 4-H and FFA members in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana over the past four years. His company produced more than 30 grand and reserve grand champion market animals.
Westhoff's project was producing and marketing beef, swine and other livestock and growing hay.
Bagwell's entry involved working in his family business, Bagwell Excavating, and for Fox Run Feed. He also has a 31-head registered sheep operation.
Also at the conference, 135 state degrees were awarded for accomplishments throughout students' entire FFA careers.
Jodi Monroe, state FFA executive director, said about 7,000 of Washington's 32,000 students enrolled in high school agriculture classes belong to the FFA. Washington has 160 FFA chapters.