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FFA convention ends four-day run


Oregon annual meeting draws 2,300 members


By ANNA WILLARD


East Oregonian Publishing Group


The din of thousands crowded into the Hermiston High School gymnasium has subsided. The chairs are stacked and the buses long gone.


The 2012 Oregon FFA State Convention was gaveled to a close March 26.


At the closing session, Mark Mulvihill, Intermountain Education Service District Superintendent, said he expected students' enthusiasm to have faded after four days. His expectations were dashed, he said.


"I'm always blown away when I come to an Oregon FFA convention," Mulvihill said. "We're going to be relying on your leadership in the years to come because you are the next great generation."


More than 2,300 Oregon FFA members assembled the afternoon of March 26 for closing ceremonies and installation of the new state officer team. The convention next year will be held at Oregon State University, Corvallis.


Zech Hintz, 18, of Heppner, was selected that morning to be the 2012-13 state treasurer. Hintz is joined by five other team members from all over Oregon -- President Jerry Risk of Sutherlin, Vice President Mitchell Evers of Banks, Secretary Mitch Salo of Canby, Reporter Garrett Kitamura of Ontario and Sentinel Alex Yancey of Klamath Falls. Yancey attends Henley High School.


The leadership team is selected after interviews by a nominating committee that trims the field to 10 candidates. The cuts, Hintz said, were the most stressful part of the process. From there, the top 10 give a two-minute speech to a group of delegates that vote on the candidates and make the final decision.


"I have some gray hair and I've lost at least five pounds," Hintz said. "The stress is insane."


Hintz's mother, Teresa VanDoorn, and advisor Beth Dickenson were proud and excited to see Hintz reach his goal, they said. Even if he wasn't selected for a state office he had a back-up plan: To attend Cornell University in the fall and major in agricultural science. Serving as a state officer will require him to wait a year before going, but Cornell will defer his acceptance for a year.


"He's worked diligently towards it ... now it's all coming true," VanDoorn said. "He's putting himself out there and doing what he loves talking in front of people and getting other kids excited about it."


Almost as soon as the session ended, students changed into their street clothes and headed for the bus. Those left behind almost immediately began packing up chairs and clearing out the gym.



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