Capital Press | FFA http://www.capitalpress.com Capital Press Mon, 27 Oct 2014 22:05:38 -0400 en http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/staticimage/images/rss-logo.jpg Capital Press | FFA http://www.capitalpress.com Idaho students get ‘big picture’ look at world ag http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20141027/idaho-students-get-big-picture-look-at-world-ag http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20141027/idaho-students-get-big-picture-look-at-world-ag#Comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:24:31 -0400 Sean Ellis http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014141029888 MERIDIAN, Idaho — An ag teacher here is taking advantage of the World Food Prize’s youth program to help his students see the big picture of agriculture.

Three Rocky Mountain High School students attended this year’s World Food Prize, an annual event in Des Moines, Iowa, that recognizes contributions from any field involved in the global food supply.

During the event, students interact closely with more than 1,000 researches and other global leaders in the agricultural industry.

Norman Borlaug founded the WFP with the idea it would be a prestigious annual award recognizing the achievements of people whose contributions have helped improve the world’s food supply.

Shane Stevenson, RMHS’s ag education teacher, who attended the WFP along with his students, said the event has helped drive home the importance of agriculture to his students.

“I don’t think students in Meridian, Idaho, can see the big picture until they get to one of these conferences and they’re sitting at a table with an African farmer or they’re meeting with a food-science professor from a land-grant university,” he said. ”These students saw first-hand that they are part of the solution.”

Stevenson has incorporated the book, “The Man Who Fed the World,” a biography about Borlaug, into the curriculum of the school’s ag education program.

“The true legacy of Norman Borlaug is to make the world a better place through agricultural research and development,” he said. “What Borlaug has done for my students more than anything is provide relevance. He’s given us the, ‘Why do we learn about plants?’”

In 2012, former RMHS student Quinn Inwards became the first Idaho student to ever attend the WFP.

This year, Inwards, who is studying aquaculture at College of Southern Idaho, was joined at WFP by two current RMHS students, senior Kirsten Forster, who will study ag education at Montana State University, and junior Jessica Kohntopp.

To be eligible to attend the WFP, students have to write an essay about how to improve food security. Once they attend, they are eligible for internships. Forster, who spent eight weeks in India last year on an internship, said her involvement with the WFP has provided her a clear career path.

“The internship completely changed me as a person,” she said. “In the past year, I’ve become really attached to being an ag teacher. I can’t think of doing anything else.”

Inwards, who spent an internship working on a watershed project in Owyhee County in Idaho, attended the WFP this year as a youth mentor. He said his involvement with the WFP helped solidify his career path.

“I was already interested in agriculture but it helped me want to stay involved with agriculture,” he said.

WFP officials have guaranteed RMHS a spot at the event each year and they plan to visit Meridian next year to see what the school is doing and try to grow the program in Idaho.

“We definitely need more teachers like Shane,” said Lisa Fleming, the WFP’s director of global education programs. “He’s a very driven young ag education teacher.”

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District FFA digs up the dirt on soil http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20141002/district-ffa-digs-up-the-dirt-on-soil http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20141002/district-ffa-digs-up-the-dirt-on-soil#Comments Thu, 2 Oct 2014 09:14:21 -0400 GEORGE PLAVENEast Oregonian http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014141009977 Growing up on a farm, 14-year-old Alex Lindsay knows how important it is to understand the nitty-gritty details of soil.

“We have irrigation crops and dryland crops,” said Lindsay, a freshman at Heppner High School. “We have to know how good the soil is.”

Lindsay was one of about 170 students who participated in the Blue Mountain District FFA soil judging competition Thursday morning, hosted this year by Vern and Suzi Frederickson on their farm east of Boardman.

The contest challenges FFA members to analyze the profile and characteristics of soil at three different locations in the field, where four-foot trenches had been dug. They have 30 minutes at each site to grade features such as color, texture and moisture capacity. That can tell a lot about what crops the land is able to support.

Right off the bat, Lindsay notices how fine and sandy this particular soil is. He uses a screwdriver to scrape off a sample and take a closer look.

Sandy soil means it’s easier to till and makes it suitable for pivot irrigation, said Oregon State University extension soil scientist Don Wysocki. But it can also be susceptible to problems like wind erosion and leaching nutrients.

Wysocki, a longtime organizer of the FFA soil judging competition, said students gain a better knowledge of how to manage their land in the future — not only for agriculture, but deciding whether to build a house or place a septic tank.

“You understand what properties make suitable soils for whatever purposes you want,” Wysocki said.

Lenn Greer, agricultural science and FFA instructor at Irrigon Junior-Senior High School, said the contest provides hands-on learning and tests students’ ability to make quick judgments based on what they see.

“It’s a great way to learn,” Greer said.

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Contact George Plaven at gplaven@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4547.

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UI showcases ag opportunities for high school students http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140916/ui-showcases-ag-opportunities-for-high-school-students http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140916/ui-showcases-ag-opportunities-for-high-school-students#Comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:09:13 -0400 Matw Weaver http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140919882 The University of Idaho will reach out to prospective college students next week during Ag Days.

The event will take place Sept. 26-27 on the UI campus in Moscow, Idaho.

It is designed to recruit students to UI and for agricultural careers, said Paulette House, assistant director of recruitment for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

“If they consider higher education for themselves, wonderful,” she said. “If they choose UI and CALS, wonderful. It’s just a great opportunity for them to make a connection with higher education and all our college has to offer.”

Workshops include food science, three-dimensional printing, plant cloning and money skills.

A panel discussion, “Feeding 9 Billion People: Technology’s Impact,” is free and open to the public. It begins at 4 p.m. Sept. 26 in the Student Union Building Vandal Ballroom.

The program includes several evening programs, such as a food science showcase and a dance.

Students will also compete in 4-H and FFA livestock judging events, participate in UI’s Celebrating Idaho Agriculture program and attend the football game against the University of South Alabama.

House expects 250-300 students to attend.

She said Ag Days helps address employee shortages within the greater industry.

“It’s great that we can share with prospective students all the opportunities and careers that are available to them,” she said.

In the future, she’d like to integrate career opportunities even more.

“A lot of high school students don’t know what they want to be when they grow up, and it’s pretty difficult to figure that out unless you’ve had some exposure to things,” she said. “These hands-on workshops are a perfect opportunity to do that, especially when they’re engaging with people who were them at one point in time — they were high school students, they came to college and now they’re working in the field.”

Online

http://www.uidaho.edu/cals/agdays/

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FFA students staff seed trailer at fair http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140903/ffaxa0students-staff-seed-trailer-at-fair http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140903/ffaxa0students-staff-seed-trailer-at-fair#Comments Wed, 3 Sep 2014 10:49:57 -0400 John O’Connell http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140909949 BLACKFOOT, Idaho — For about 40 FFA students at Shelley High School, the Eastern Idaho State Fair presents an opportunity to teach younger children in the community about agriculture in a mobile, interactive classroom.

For a third year, the students are staffing Agrium’s Seed Survivor trailer at the fair, which began Aug. 30 and ends Sept. 6.

Agrium has three Seed Survivor trailers that travel throughout North America from spring through fall, making stops at elementary schools and public events to offer agriculture-related displays and interactive computer games. Seed survivor is geared toward third- and fourth-graders, but Shelley agricultural instructor Vincent Wray acknowledges he’s adapted the curriculum for his high school classroom.

Seed Survivor games and material are also accessible online at www.growingthenextgeneration.com. Wray’s students work six-hour shifts at the fair.

“With a booth like that they can view themselves as the educator and share their own knowledge with the people who come through,” Wray said.

After touring the trailer, visiting children get to plant a sunflower seed in a cup, which they are invited to take home. Wray said many children have never planted anything before and are surprised to learn a plant can grow in their own homes.

Kirby Shepherd, an Agrium human resources administrator, said the trailer will remain in Eastern and Southern Idaho through Nov. 8, stopping at elementary schools in Jefferson, Bonneville, Bannock, Caribou, Bear Lake, Franklin, Bingham, Power, Cassia and Minidoka counties. Agrium employees and the public will also be invited to see the trailer during a special media day at a Soda Springs park in early October.

Shepherd said Agrium started the program in 2010.

“The thing we teach the kids a lot throughout the Seed Survivor trailer is with (the) population growing, the farm land is getting smaller every day,” Shepherd said. “With the help of fertilizer, we can feed more people with less land.”

Shepherd said teachers often use the Seed Survivor website in class, and the Soda Springs Agrium plant also has a smaller planting station that it often takes into local schools.

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Grant allows Nyssa ag program to build greenhouse http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20140828/grant-allows-nyssa-ag-program-to-build-greenhouse http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20140828/grant-allows-nyssa-ag-program-to-build-greenhouse#Comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:28:44 -0400 Sean Ellis http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140829862 NYSSA, Ore. — Nyssa High School will use a $25,000 grant from Monsanto Corp. to build a modern greenhouse that will allow ag education students to perform advanced science-based experiments.

The grant was awarded by Monsanto through the company’s regional Seminis vegetable seeds division. A ceremonial check was presented to school district officials Aug. 25 at the farm of Paul Skeen.

The money will cover the cost of purchasing advanced testing equipment, such as probes and sensors, as well as specialized data collection and analysis software.

Nyssa ag education students currently grow tomatoes and hanging baskets and raise tilapia in two old greenhouses and a fish lab.

The much larger, modern greenhouse will allow the school’s ag education program to move to the next level and do science-based research, including experimenting with different rates of fertilizer and conducting water, temperature, oxygen and soil pH testing.

“It will be a lot of hands-on, science-based experiments,” said Nyssa ag education teacher Chad Cruickshank. “This grant is going to give us the technology that will allow these kids to go out and actually apply what we’re teaching them in a real-life situation.”

The new greenhouse will also allow students to use fish bio-waste to grow produce and learn about pest management and other skills they will need if they move on to a career in agriculture, Cruickshank said.

“Kids like hands-on learning so it’s going to add more opportunities for student learning,” he said. “By adding more opportunities, we’ll spark more interest and may be able to hold more kids within the agricultural industry.”

The project will include adding raised garden beds in the greenhouse, which will allow the program to grow more crops and possibly do some research on onions and other major crops grown in the area, Cruickshank said.

The new equipment will allow students to apply the scientific process to what they’re learning in the classroom, said Tiffany Cruickshank, who wrote the grant application and is Chad Cruickshank’s wife.

“Science is so integrated with agriculture now and it’s very important for these kids to have access to this type of technology to prepare them for the future,” she said. “There are so many jobs available in agriculture and these FFA kids will be the ones to fill them. Any advantage we can give them to prepare them for that will be really beneficial.”

About 120 students a year go through the ag education program in Nyssa, a small community in Eastern Oregon that is heavily dependent on farming activities.

Skeen, a member of the Nyssa ag education program’s advisory board, said one of the main goals of the project is to keep local kids interested in and involved with agriculture.

“It’s important to get these local kids familiar with this type of research and technology and get them excited about a possible career in agriculture,” he said. “It’s a big deal and I think it’s going to go a long way.”

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Amid footing concerns, FFA cancels horse show http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140820/amid-footing-concerns-ffa-cancels-horse-show http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140820/amid-footing-concerns-ffa-cancels-horse-show#Comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 12:30:41 -0400 CASEY MINTER http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140829984 Citing poor footing in the horse stadium, officials cut short the final day of the state 4-H horse show on Tuesday, prompting the Oregon FFA to cancel its planned horse show at the Oregon State Fair, too.

Both 4-H and FFA representatives cited bad footing in the horse stadium as the reason for canceling the shows. The FFA canceled after the four-day State 4H Horse Fair showings were plagued by slipping horses and one horse exhibitor flipped her horse in the arena at a collected lope.

“A lot of times this is a culminating effort, this kind of ends our summer season before we go into the fall,” said Lance Hill, a FFA representative. “But this is just one of those things that those of us in ag have to absorb. When it rains you’re not making hay.

“We may have lost out on the experience of the moment, but we always come back to the fact that the most important thing is the safety of our students,” Hill said.

According to Footing Solutions USA, a company that specializes in preparing arenas for equestrian events, the perfect surface has to be compact, rebounding sand that still gives enough to prevent high impact on the horses’ muscles and bones. If footing is too hard or too loose, the performance of the animal and the safety of the event can be compromised, according to the company’s website.

“If you get too much compact dirt below, it tends to be rougher when starting, stopping and turning the animals,” Hill said. “These are performance-based animals, and we try and do everything to ensure they can perform properly.”

Fair organizers are working on a solution, said Amber Lindsey, a spokeswoman for the Oregon State Fair.

“As of yesterday, the event was going to be canceled at the request of the FFA,” Lindsey said. “But the ground crews have been working on the arena for 24 hours straight to try and get it ready.”

Competitors come from around the state for the FFA event, and it won’t be rescheduled, Hill said.

“When we made the decision to follow suit, we were not going to change our minds,” Hill said. “We have people come from around the state, so it wouldn’t be fair to reschedule and only local competitors be able to join.”

Other horse events are scheduled throughout the fair, which ends Sept. 1.

The change “does not affect open class. It is still scheduled to go. We had a volunteer come in last night and do some additional work. She has experience in arena rescue. We’re going to continue to work on it for the next few days,” said M.G. Devereux, deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department. Some 400 competitors are registered for the open class events.

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Washington FFA gets new executive director http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140814/washington-ffa-gets-new-executive-director http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140814/washington-ffa-gets-new-executive-director#Comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 15:42:27 -0400 Matw Weaver http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140819918 The Washington State FFA Association has hired Abbie DeMeerleer as the organization’s new executive director.

“The fall is a busy time for FFA and there’s a lot of work to be done,” DeMeerleer told the Capital Press. “I’m looking forward to helping grow the organization.”

DeMeerleer said she has a long history with the organization. When the opportunity became available, it was a good match, she said.

According to the Washington FFA, DeMeerleer was Washington state FFA vice president in 1999-2000 and vice president of the Western Region National FFA in 2001-2002.

DeMeerleer was a member in the Colfax, Wash., FFA chapter and is a member and former board member of the National FFA Alumni Association.

“It meant the world to me,” DeMeerleer recalled. “I was not a God-gifted athlete, so my outlet really was FFA. I grew up around and among agriculture, and FFA allowed me to do that in a really productive and academically supported way.”

FFA allowed DeMeerleer to develop leadership and communication skills, and offered her opportunities.

“I’ve been able to travel all over the world, literally, with FFA,” she said, citing trips to Europe, Japan and around the United States. “I probably wouldn’t have had those opportunities had I not been part of this organization, and I want to make sure those opportunities are still available to students. There’s the world and life knowledge that can be gained.”

DeMeerleer is a clinical assistant professor in the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. She expects to continue at the university through December, teaching a class for the semester and support a leadership project she helped develop.

DeMeerleer hopes to further develop the partnership between WSU and FFA.

She plans to remain on the Palouse as executive director for the organization.

“Abbie is an asset to the Washington State Association; she leads by example and lives by character,” said Rebecca Wallace, state FFA adviser, in a press release. “I am excited to work with Abbie to advance leadership opportunities for students, strengthen relationships with the agricultural industry and advance agricultural education and FFA in the state.”

DeMeerleer replaces Jodi Monroe, who had re-applied for the position after her contract was up July 31. Wallace called replacing Monroe “a human resources decision.”

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Melba lands $8,000 grant for ag program http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140805/melba-lands-8000-grant-for-ag-program http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140805/melba-lands-8000-grant-for-ag-program#Comments Tue, 5 Aug 2014 09:40:35 -0400 Sean Ellis http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140809940 MELBA, Idaho — Melba School District officials say an $8,000 grant from Monsanto Corp. will help instructors provide students a more realistic learning experience about agriculture.

The grant will be used to build a greenhouse that will provide high school students in the district’s ag education program a hands-on learning experience, said superintendent Andy Grover.

“It creates an opportunity for us to give them real-life, hands-on experience with agriculture,” said Grover, who grew up on a large grain farm in East Idaho. “Being able to do that is huge. It gets past just theory in the classroom to allowing them to actually grow things.”

About 100-120 students go through the district’s ag program each year, Grover said.

Rep. Gayle Batt, R-Wilder, a former farmer, helped the district apply for the grant.

The greenhouse will allow the district’s ag program “to give these students practical, hands-on experience in everything from irrigation to soil amendment to marketing and business skills — skills that are going to help develop them into employable, productive citizens in the agricultural industry,” she said.

Grover said the district has been trying to build a greenhouse for at least three years, but lacked the finances to pull the trigger on the project until now.

The district will start building the greenhouse this month.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do it without this grant,” he said. “This is what pushed us over the top so we could finally do this project.”

The grant was awarded through Monsanto’s vegetable seed division in Nampa. Brett Lolley, Monsanto’s Idaho production manager, said the division was looking for a project closely tied to farmers who grow Monsanto seed.

He said at least 15 percent of the company’s sweet corn seed is grown in this area and a lot of the division’s employees have children who have gone through or are going through the Melba school system.

“They have a really well-put-together plan of how they are going to use (the money) to teach kids about agriculture,” Lolley said.

Trent Clark, Monsanto’s public and government affairs director for this region, said Monsanto grants have already helped other school districts in Idaho such as Bancroft, Grace, Preston and Soda Springs build greenhouses.

“The day is going to come when every school district in Idaho has a Monsanto-built greenhouse,” he said.

Grover said district officials hope to set up a partnership with Monsanto that will enable the company’s employees to help teach Melba students about things like fertilizer, irrigation and genetics.

Lolley and Clark both said Monsanto would be happy to partner with the district to provide ag program students more specialized knowledge about agriculture.

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Livestock camps prepare kids for fair time http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140711/livestock-camps-prepare-kids-for-fair-time http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140711/livestock-camps-prepare-kids-for-fair-time#Comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 11:33:54 -0400 John O’Connell http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140719960 DOWNEY, Idaho — Riley Kofford has attended the same summer day camp every year since he was 5 years old, when he’d tag along with his big sisters.

At Bannock County’s livestock day camp — a three-hour crash course in animal agriculture hosted by a team of University of Idaho Extension educators — Kofford explained presentations have prepared him for showing 4H animal projects during the annual county fair.

Livestock day camps have been organized for the past 18 years to prepare students within southern UI Extension district counties for fair competition.

“During the show, the judge will ask us a question, and you never know what it is going to be,” said Kofford, a junior at Marsh Valley High School in Arimo. “Knowing all about the animal you’re doing definitely helps you so you can answer the question correctly.”

Kofford, who shows market lambs, said he always learns something new at the day camp.

More than 50 students and several parents and siblings attended the Bannock County day camp on July 10. It was the last of eight southern district day camps, which started during the final week of June and were also hosted in Power, Bingham, Caribou, Bear Lake, Oneida, Bonneville and Teton counties. Organizers estimate 500-600 students attended the district’s day camps, which are offered free and include a meal.

Experts from each county present at every day camp to provide students a broad range of information. Southern district educators have partnered on camps in the past with other districts in Idaho, and even Wyoming and Utah extension educators to diversify the subject matter.

Ashley Tolman, Bannock County’s 4-H program assistant and organizer of the county’s day camp, said the turnout was encouraging, recalling past years when just three or four children participated.

Tolman’s presentation emphasized biosecurity, which she said is an especially important topic this summer as 4-H fairs seek to teach children steps to prevent outbreaks of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus on their own farms and in fairgrounds. The highly contagious disease has caused significant losses in the swine industry since first surfacing in the U.S. last May.

During his presentation on animal breeds, Power County Extension educator Reed Findlay engaged students in an interactive trivia card game. He explained day camps are open to any student with a 4-H project, but they tend to draw younger children, as the older kids are often busy with other summer activities.

Bingham County Extension educator Scott Nash offered students beef samples after discussing the different meat quality grades and preparation methods. He informed students that the most tender cuts come from supporting muscles, such as loins, while muscles used in movement, such as the rump, are tougher.

Children also heard Caribou County Extension educator Steve Harrison present on marketing fair animals and ultrasound use in animal agriculture and Oneida County Extension educator Meranda Hazelbaker discuss animal reproduction.

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Student to give cattle showmanship clinic http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140707/student-to-give-cattle-showmanship-clinic http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140707/student-to-give-cattle-showmanship-clinic#Comments Mon, 7 Jul 2014 11:35:13 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140709922 FILER, Idaho — An incoming senior at Filer High School wants to help youth prepare for showing their beef cattle at judging events and is offering a free clinic with the help of University of Idaho extension educators in Twin Falls County.

Joely Roe, 17, has been showing cattle since she was 7 years old and will be demonstrating the techniques of showmanship, animal handling and show preparation.

The clinic will not only be instructional and informational, it will serve as Roe’s senior project to fulfill her high school requirements.

In addition to showmanship, the clinic will include a presentation by Billy Whitehurst, extension beef cattle educator, on animal nutrition and cattle breeds. Another presentation, by Suzann Dolecheck, 4-H program educator, will be on the deeper meaning and benefits of 4-H.

The event is set for July 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Roe family farm at 3762 N 2300 E in Filer. The event is open to all ages, including interested adults, and will include lunch.

The clinic will be a hands-on learning opportunity in animal handling, proper showing and washing, clipping, brushing and blowing animals for the best presentation, Roe said.

Grooming and working with an animal for presentation at a show takes months, with a lot of work and pre-planning involved. Animal owners need to start ahead of time and do it correctly “because it’s no fun to lose,” Roe said.

The clinic will cover such things as how to lead an animal, how to set it up in a profile and how to train its hair.

The goal is to make it fun and teach kids all about the animal and the correct way of preparing and showing animals, Roe said.

While the clinic is geared for youth, all ages are welcome.

“It’s never too late to learn something,” Roe said.

A 4-H and FFA member with a love for animals, Roe intends to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine and a large- and small- animal practice.

Cattle for the clinic will be provided and lunch will be served. There is no charge for the event or lunch, however preregistration is highly suggested.

For more information or to register, contact Roe at (256) 960-2901 or by e-mail at joelyroe@gmail.com.

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DAYS OF AGRICULTURE EQUAL DAYS OF SUCCESS http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140606/days-of-agriculture-equal-days-of-success http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140606/days-of-agriculture-equal-days-of-success#Comments Fri, 6 Jun 2014 11:27:48 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140609885 Career development events give FFA members ‘real world’ preview http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140605/career-development-events-give-ffa-members-real-worldxa0preview http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140605/career-development-events-give-ffa-members-real-worldxa0preview#Comments Thu, 5 Jun 2014 09:47:18 -0400 Matw Weaver http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140609914 MOSCOW, Idaho — About 600 FFA members from around Idaho converged on the University of Idaho campus this week to compete in state career development events, which tested their skills in a “real world” scenario.

Winners in state CDEs will compete in FFA nationals, held this year in Louisville, Ky., in the fall.

“A lot of these contests are very much like the real world,” said Justin Nesbitt, Idaho FFA Association state treasurer. “Once students come out of FFA, go to college and go into industries, (the CDEs) are very similar to what they’ll be seeing.”

Growing up in Meridian, Idaho, Nesbitt competed in a variety of CDEs for four years. He plans to follow in his father’s footsteps as an agricultural engineer.

“I really like the fact we’re learning about different parts of agriculture, different industries,” he said. “I find it really cool and interesting to learn about all these different areas within agriculture as possible careers.”

CDEs in Moscow included livestock and dairy judging, forestry, agricultural mechanics, veterinary science, food science and dairy handling.

Jacob Christensen, an 11th-grader from Homedale, Idaho, and his team competed in the marketing CDE, practicing for weeks prior to make sure they knew the material.

“When you go through it and you know you nailed everything, it’s just a great feeling to know you’ve done all this work and you know it through and through, you can deliver it perfectly,” Christensen said.

In marketing CDEs, members present their efforts in working with agricultural businesses to develop a marketing plan.

Bonners Ferry FFA member T.J. Smith competed in small engines and copper pipe fitting.

Smith enters the 10th grade this year. He says an agricultural career is a possibility, and competing in the CDEs gives him the chance to learn new skills.

“If you don’t want to pay someone to do it for you, you can just do it yourself,” he said.

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Calf scramble event raises $22,000 http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140603/calf-scramble-event-raises-22000 http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140603/calf-scramble-event-raises-22000#Comments Tue, 3 Jun 2014 09:59:24 -0400 Sean Ellis http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140609973 NAMPA, Idaho — Local ranchers, farmers and businesses helped raise $22,588 May 30 in an event designed to teach youths about agriculture by giving them hands-on experience raising a heifer.

The money will be used to give 22 to 24 Treasure Valley FFA and 4-H members $1,000 certificates they can use to purchase a purebred beef or dairy heifer.

The money raised during a dinner and auction will be used to support an annual calf scramble program that is part of the Snake River Stampede, which is held in Nampa in July and is one of the nation’s major professional rodeos.

On two separate occasions during the rodeo, 10 calves are released into the arena and about 20 FFA and 4-H students ranging in age from 14 to 16 try to catch them.

The first 10 who catch, halter and lead a calf across the line are declared winners. Each receives a $1,000 certificate to purchase a heifer that will be part of their 4-H or FFA program.

Event organizers also give out two to four sportsmanship awards.

“This is a great opportunity to raise awareness of agriculture in our valley as well as to give these young people an opportunity to participate in raising and working with a heifer,” said calf scramble chairman David Temple. “It gives them some great work experience and helps them start working into their own operation.”

The money for the event is raised by farmers, ranchers and local businesses that bid on items donated for the auction. Several local businesses agree to match the amount raised up to a combined $10,000.

The award winners get to keep the animal after raising it for a year. Some sell it and use the proceeds to help fund their college education, while others keep the animal and use it to start their own herd.

Six past winners who have started herds spoke briefly before the auction about how the heifer helped them get started.

“She kind of started me into the cattle industry,” said Hailey Palmer, who won an award in 2010.

“She’s one of the best cows in my herd,” said Nathan Haylett, who won in 2012.

The calf scramble is an investment in the youth and the future of the agricultural industry in the Treasure Valley, said Rodney Moore, who started it in 1999 when he was president of the Stampede.

Moore said the event has enabled local youths to buy about $250,000 worth of heifers since it began.

“We want to keep the tradition of agriculture in the Treasure Valley going and this is one way to do that,” he said. “We’re trying to protect the heritage of the agricultural community in the Treasure Valley through these young people.”

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Search continues for FFA leadership center site http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20140528/search-continues-for-ffa-leadership-center-site http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20140528/search-continues-for-ffa-leadership-center-site#Comments Wed, 28 May 2014 10:13:34 -0400 Eric Mortenson http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140529868 The Oregon FFA Foundation has reluctantly withdrawn its application to build a leadership center in the McMinnville area, saying the current access to the property under consideration is unsafe for students and that building commercial access from Highway 18 would be too costly.

Foundation Executive Director Kevin White said the group will continue looking for a site. Ideally, the foundation would like to have 50 to 100 acres for facilities, parking and agricultural production and displays. A 15- to 20-acre might do, but the foundation is hoping for a larger site, preferably along the Interstate 5 corridor or centrally located. Anyone with ideas or land offers should contact White at kwhite@oregonffa.com or by calling 541-604-1350.

The McMinnville area site was offered by Waste Management-Riverbend’s Stewardship Committee, which is making available 450 acres Waste Management bought as a buffer to its landfill in the area. The garbage disposal company does not plan to use the land as part of its landfill, and has asked the Stewardship Committee to determine how the property should be used.

White said the Waste Management site was attractive in part because of Yamhill County’s strong agricultural sector, but the access problems were too much to overcome. In a prepared statement, the foundation said access off busy Highway 18 “will be difficult and expensive, and the safety of Highway 18 will be a challenge which may put our teachers and students in harm’s way.”

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Washington FFA members honored at White House http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140527/washington-ffa-members-honored-at-white-house http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140527/washington-ffa-members-honored-at-white-house#Comments Tue, 27 May 2014 13:01:22 -0400 Carl Sampson http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140529885 Greg Pile opened an email May 19. It was from the White House.

Two of his students, Celine Patrick and Ashlee Tarro, had been invited to present their national award-winning FFA agri-science project at the 2014 White House Science Fair and meet President Barack Obama.

Pile, a 37-year agri-science teacher and FFA adviser at Sumner High School in Washington state, told Jessica Treich, who also teaches agri-science and advises FFA students.

Fast forward to May 27 and Patrick and Tarro were at the White House with Treich. They met the president and his science advisers as part of a special program promoting math and science among girls and young women and celebrated the accomplishments of student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math competitions throughout the U.S.

Pile said he was “surprised and just elated” by the invitation. “It’s been amazing from start to finish,” he said.

Patrick and Tarro are members of the Sumner FFA chapter. As students last year in Pile’s honors ag-biology class they had solved a plant infestation problem in their high school greenhouse.

Patrick is from Lake Tapps, Wash., and Tarro is from Auburn, Wash. Both are 15.

Their project won the state and national FFA agri-science competitions in their category and division.

“In our school’s greenhouse, we were having a serious infestation of aphids — or plant lice. We didn’t want to have to resort to the use of harsh pesticides to try and eliminate the infestation,” Patrick said in an FFA press release.

“We explored alternative methods for their control,” Tarro said. “All three of the methods that we tested proved safe, though some were more labor intensive than others.”

At the White House, Patrick and Tarro also met with other guests, including their peers, professional scientists, senior government leaders and private sector representatives.

“We are happy to have Celine and Ashlee as our honored guests,” said Danielle Carnival, senior policy adviser at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “The previous three science fairs have been favorite events of President Obama as he is always eager to learn more about what the most promising and impressive young scientists, engineers and inventors have been up to across the country.”

During his presentation, the president pointed out that men outnumber women studying and working in science and that women earn fewer than one in five bachelor’s degrees in engineering and computer science.

“Half our team we’re not even putting on the field,” he said in the East Room of the White House. “We’ve got to change those numbers.”

—The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Donated trucks promote FFA message http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140520/donated-trucks-promote-ffa-message http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140520/donated-trucks-promote-ffa-message#Comments Tue, 20 May 2014 09:31:54 -0400 Matw Weaver http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140529990 PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington FFA officers will be driving in style this year as they fulfill their duties across the state.

They will have the use of three Ram trucks, said Stewart Padelford, director of the FFA foundation. Ram will pay the cost of the leases.

The foundation also worked with Mid Valley Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Grandview, Wash., which also paid for the signage promoting agriculture that appear on the trucks, Padelford said.

“It’s a great opportunity and it helps the kids out,” said Isaac Aguirre, commercial new-car manager for the dealership. “We were honored as a dealership to be a part of it.”

“An expectation has been that the state FFA officer team drives their own vehicles, or their parents’ vehicles, to visit chapters around the state, put on leadership activities and attend the fairs,” Padelford said. “That’s a pretty high expectation of the kids, to use their own transportation.”

He estimated the state officers drive roughly 25,000 to 30,000 miles over the course of the year. They visit all 150 FFA chapters around the state.

There was some reimbursement, but Padelford called the cost to the officers and their families “tremendous.”

The wraps on the trucks include words from Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer” speech and from President George Washington about the value of agriculture.

“It’s a great way to promote the ag industry and career opportunities for students,” Padelford said. “They’re trekking all over the state of Washington, promoting FFA, promoting the values of the organization.”

The foundation is constantly looking for support from the agriculture industry and other companies for FFA awards, Padelford said. The Leadership Learning Initiative is designed to pay for leadership training at the district and state levels. That costs about $34,000 a year.

The foundation also provides teacher training through the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education program. Twenty teachers will be trained this summer, Padelford said.

“We support teachers and their training because we know that their direct instruction in the classroom is going to be very important to the students’ learning and being prepared to go to work in the ag industry,” he said.

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New Washington FFA president reaches out http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20140519/new-washington-ffa-president-reaches-out http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20140519/new-washington-ffa-president-reaches-out#Comments Mon, 19 May 2014 15:32:55 -0400 Matw Weaver http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140519892 PULLMAN, Wash. — New Washington FFA state president Apolinar Blanco hopes to promote the organization and agriculture as a whole in the year ahead.

Blanco, 18, was elected state president for the 2014-2015 year May 17 during the Washington FFA Convention.

“To me, it shows people saw my potential and they want me to be a leader, so I’m going to step up and represent Washington the best way I can,” Blanco said.

Blanco and his team of state officers will work to promote agriculture and the industry, and agricultural education to future students, he said.

Blanco’s parents worked in packing sheds and orchards, and he worked alongside them in the packing sheds.

“It’s an American dream story,” said Chelan FFA adviser Rod Cool. “He’s the first-generation kid from immigrant parents, he’s worked hard, he’s very strong in his faith and his character. I’m proud to be associated with an organization where that kind of a kid can get elected president and we celebrate those things.”

Once his year as president is up, Blanco hopes to attend Walla Walla Community College for two years, then go on to Washington State University or University of Idaho to major in agricultural education and become an FFA adviser.

As president, Blanco hopes to get more people involved in FFA, particularly minorities, to show them they could succeed if they go the extra mile.

“I want to promote the agriculture industry and show the importance of agriculture in our every day lives, and how it’s going to be beneficial in the future,” he said.

Cool said Blanco has been chapter and district 7 president. Blanco has a good work ethic and sees things through, he added.

Cool noted that he often advises his students that good things happen when they work hard.

“It validated my mantra,” he said with a big grin of Blanco’s election.

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Washington FFA looks to connect to industry http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20140519/washington-ffa-looks-to-connect-to-industry http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20140519/washington-ffa-looks-to-connect-to-industry#Comments Mon, 19 May 2014 10:38:27 -0400 Matw Weaver http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140519898 PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington FFA will work to connect members with the greater agriculture industry in the coming year, says a state adviser.

The state convention concluded May 17 with the installation of the new 2014-2015 officers: president Apolinar Blanco of Chelan, Wash., vice president Becca Foote of Yelm, Wash., secretary Maya Wahl of Lind, Wash., treasurer Megan Miller of White River, Wash., reporter Samantha Brown of Stanwood, Wash., and sentinel Lizbeth Bumstead of Pullman, Wash.

Departing president Bailey Peters, of Centralia, Wash., said during her farewell address that farmers like her grandfather live a life of service to provide food, clothing and housing across America.

“We need our farmers to have a sustainable future, but we need you, Washington FFA, to be that future,” she said. “Through your blue jackets, you have infinite potential to impact the world around you. You too can do something great for your community, our country and even our world.”

State FFA adviser Rebecca Wallace, who took over her position in July 2013, believes the state program’s leadership development will help members be ready to enter the workforce at a time when projected agricultural employment is growing.

“The parts that I’m most proud of are all the things that happen outside of convention, that our chapters are doing for their community,” she said.

Wallace said agriculture is in a unique position to meet new state education standards. The new science and engineering practices are student-based learning, which has long been the state FFA’s educational model, she said.

Wallace plans to develop a new state advisory council in the early summer, to carry from middle school, high school and college, community college or technical school and into the industry.

“I am very open to communication from our industry partners, because we need to make sure we are preparing our kids,” she said. “Washington FFA is open, willing and eager to partner with businesses, not only in local communities, but as a state association.”

Online

http://www.washingtonffa.org

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Homedale thanks departing FFA advisor http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140514/homedale-thanks-departing-ffa-advisor http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140514/homedale-thanks-departing-ffa-advisor#Comments Wed, 14 May 2014 10:04:11 -0400 Sean Ellis http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140519939 HOMEDALE, Idaho — About 40 members of this small farming community in southwestern Idaho showed up at Homedale High School May 13 to thank a departing teacher for building the school’s FFA program.

A group of parents fought for and got permission to create an FFA program at Homedale High School 10 years ago.

But it was FFA advisor Lori Idsinga who actually built a high-quality program that is now one of the best in the state, said Sue Williams, chairman of the school’s ag advisory program.

After getting permission from the school district to add a vocational-agricultural program a decade ago, the key was finding a good teacher to make sure the program would continue, Williams said.

Idsinga, who was raised on her family’s farm and ranch in eastern Idaho and has a degree in agricultural education from University of Idaho,  was the perfect hire, she added.

“In just a 10-year period, she’s built the program to where it’s now one of the best in the state,” Williams said.

Idsinga is pregnant with her second child and is leaving the job to raise her young family.

The small community of Homedale is surrounded by ranches and farms that produce onions, mint, hops, sugar beets, potatoes and many other crops.

It’s hard to believe the local high school didn’t have an FFA program for decades, said Rep. Gayle Batt, a Republican lawmaker from nearby Wilder who helped organize the going away party.

Batt, a former farmer, said Idsinga has done wonders for the community, turning out kids every year who have the skills needed to provide Idaho agriculture its future workforce.

About 20 percent of the high school’s annual enrollment of 300-350 students are FFA members and 40 percent take vocational-agricultural classes.

“The program has been incredible for this community,” Batt said. “It’s been amazing to watch what she’s done with these kids. It’s just story after story after story.”

Batt said Idsinga has been particularly adept at reaching kids without direct farming backgrounds and introducing them to agriculture.

“I’m really proud of what she’s done,” said Owyhee County Farm Bureau President John Richard, a rancher. “She’s been a valuable asset to agriculture. She’s done wonders here.”

Idsinga said she initially planned to get the program running and leave after one year.

“I stayed and then it was, ‘OK, if I’m going to be here, I want it to be my dream program,’” she said.

Homedale High School now regularly sends FFA teams to nationals and its range team won nationals in 2006. The school’s FFA program had its first state officer last year. 

While community members turned out to thank her, Idsinga in turn said they were vital in helping her build the program.

“The community support is second to none,” she said. “They have just … come through on anything we’ve asked for. You can’t ask for a better community.”

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Washington FFA convention set May 15-17 http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140501/washington-ffa-convention-set-may-15-17 http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140501/washington-ffa-convention-set-may-15-17#Comments Thu, 1 May 2014 13:32:12 -0400 Matw Weaver http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140509990 Washington FFA state officers will spread the word about agriculture in a new way, on new wheels, this year as they travel across the state.

Dodge Ram has donated three trucks to Washington FFA through FFA’s national foundation, said Jodi Monroe, Washington FFA executive director. The trucks,adorned with Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer” message, will be on display during the convention.

The six state officers will use the trucks instead of their own vehicles, Monroe said. Most officers rack up about 30,000 miles as part of their duties.

“They’re going to be driving around in a truck with the agriculture education message all over it,” she said. “Hopefully we catch the eyes of some people.”

The Washington State FFA convention meets May 15-17 on the Washington State University campus in Pullman, Wash.

The event also includes a new film festival, featuring three short films focused on Washington farming, including “Growing Season,” about Stemilt founder Tom Mathison, Monroe said.

“I’m always looking for something new and educational, that potentially teachers can use in the classroom,” Monroe said.

Educational non-profit organization Nutrients for Life Foundation’s national program provides educational support for a community. Twenty-four schools in the state applied for grant funding with a program, Monroe said. All 24 will receive $500, the top three schools will receive $5,000; $3,000 and $1,000. Winners will be announced the evening of May 15.

“That’s a real big deal for our teachers,” Monroe said.

There are roughly 7,300 total student members across the state. Monroe expects more than 3,000 to attend the convention.

Presentations include FFA eastern region vice president Wes Davis May 15, motivational speaker Michael Cuestas May 16 and state officer elections May 17.

Monroe expects a high level of interest in the usual competitions as well, including the ever-popular parliamentary procedure.

“I’m there to put on one heck of a party for a lot of kids who have worked hard all year long,” Monroe said. “To get them on stage, so they can be given their award and recognized.”

Online

http://www.washingtonffa.org

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California FFA proficiency award winners http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140416/california-ffa-proficiency-award-winners http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140416/california-ffa-proficiency-award-winners#Comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:45:46 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140419923 FFA proficiency awards were presented to the following students at the 2014 California FFA Leadership Conference:

Dominique Germann, Ceres; Agriculture Communications

Audrey Lent, Carpinteria; Agriculture Education

Wyatt Wolfe, Kerman, Agriculture Mechanics-Design/Fabrication

Louis Linesey, Templeton; Agricultural Mechanics Maintenance Entrepreneurship

Nicholas Hasch, Templeton; Agricultural Mechanics Maintenance Placement

Emily Thompson, Tracy, Agricultural Processing

Anna Gomes, Ferndale, Agricultural Sales Entrepreneurship

Virat Kang, Madera; Agricultural Sales Placement

Griffith Peterson, Bear River, Agricultural Services

Abby Carlson, Elk Grove; Agriscience Research

Isabella Marinia, Elk Grove; Agriscience Research Plant Systems

Madison Albiani, Elk Grove; Agriscience Research Integrated System

Macy Perry, Clovis; Beef Production Entrepreneurship

Emma Briggs, Petaluma; Beef Production Placement

Tony Lopes, Gustine; Dairy Production Entrepreneurship

John Paul Pimentel, Hanford; Dairy Production Placement

Andrea Thomas, Colusa; Diversified Agriculture Production

Joshua Allen, Firebaugh; Diversified Crop Production Entrepreneurship

Garrison Fernandes, Tulare; Diversified Crop Production Placement

Christopher Lopez, Firebaugh; Diversified Horticulture Entrepreneurship

Josh Ellithorpe, Fallbrook; Diversified Horticulture Placement

Beaujena DeSilva, Hanford; Diversified Livestock Entrepreneurship

Tyson Brem, Strathmore; Diversified Livestock Placement

Jilliam Drake, Fallbrook; Emerging Agriculture Technology

Eric Wallace, Lake Isabella/Kern Valley; Environmental Science

Kassidi Hofman, Ripon, Equine Science Entrepreneurship

Gabby Dodson, El Capitan; Equine Science Placement

Jason Allen, Firebaugh; Fiber/Oil Crops

Josie Wheeler, St. Helena; Forage Production

Travis Clark, Tulare; Forest Management/Products

Taylor Lindquist, Templeton; Goat Production

Natalie Massa, Willows; Grain Production Entrepreneurship

Drew Mullaney, East Nicholas; Grain Production Placement

Andrew Francis, Bakersfield North; Home/Community Development

Lionel Cruz, Carpenteria; Landscape Management

Jacob Van Klaveren, Gregori; Nursery Operations

Sapphire Martinez, Mountain Empire; Outdoor Recreation

Evan Hudelson, Hughson; Pomology Production

Danny Moretti, Tomales; Poultry Production

Kayla Hildebrand, Templeton; Sheep Production

Molly Lacey, Lone Pine; Small Animal Production and Care

Hayden Shaad, Gridley; Specialty Animal Production

Anna Gomes, Ferndale; Specialty Crop Production

Austin Rogers, El Capitan; Swine Production Entrepreneurship

Sean Pimentel, Fresno Central West; Swine Production Placement

Edgar Ayala, Lompoc; Turf Grass Management

Kassidy Sears, Bakersfield North; Vegetable Production Entrepreneurship

Elmer Barrueta, Santa Maria; Vegetable Production Placement

Ciera McClure, Lodi; Veterinary Medicine

Carina Duran, Wasco; Viticulture Production

Marcos Rojas, Firebaugh; Wildlife Management

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Ross: FFA members are the future of ag http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20140416/ross-ffa-members-are-the-future-of-ag http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20140416/ross-ffa-members-are-the-future-of-ag#Comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:54:19 -0400 CECILIA PARSONS http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140419931 FRESNO, Calif. — Calling the 5,000 assembled FFA members “the most important audience I speak to on an annual basis,” California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross told the students that they represent the promise and the possibilities for California agriculture.

Ross addressed FFA members during the Monday general session of the 86th annual State FFA Leadership Conference in Fresno. She encouraged them to be the next problem solvers for California agriculture and tackle water use and renewable energy issues.

“No one is better equipped to help with these challenges,” Ross said. She acknowledged the lack of trust in government and asked the students to be engaged, involved and informed in keeping society open and free.

Noting recent victories for FFA, Ross said students should recognize how effective they were in telling their story in an effort to keep agriculture education funding in the state budget. Though return of funding is not ensured, state budget committee members were unanimous in voting to retain the incentive grant school districts receive for agriculture education. The outcome won’t be known until next month during the May “revise” of the budget. The long awaited Ag Plates for California will also be coming soon and provide revenue for FFA chapters.

“You are the best equipped young people I know,” Ross told the agriculture students. “We need you and your belief in the future.”

On the final day of the conference, FFA members elected their state officers for 2014-15. Tulare Western senior Dipak Kumar was elected president, Sierra Bryant of Templeton was elected secretary, Haley Warner of Altaville-Bret Harte was elected vice president, Ellen Van Noy of Grass Valley Nevada Union was elected reporter and Luis Sanchez of Gonzales was elected sentinel.

Conference delegates also voted on ballot proposals. One of the most controversial — changing the women’s FFA uniform to include dark hosiery to conform with the national uniform — was shot down for at least the second time. Delegates did pass a proposal to increase the number of agriculture teachers on the State FFA board from 6 to 12 and passed a proposal to allow the state FFA advisor to determine the state FFA degree verification process.

Students also discussed recruitment and marketing FFA to middle school students and planned outreach events for state and local government leaders.

The conference included a career fair for students, giving them the chance to speak with representatives of state universities and community colleges. Schools on hand for the fair included Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Colorado State in addition to California universities.

The most inspiring parts of the conference are the farewell speeches from the outgoing state officers. Outgoing state secretary Gabrielle Franke, from Galt, asked FFA members to “open the door” for incoming members and make them a part of the FFA family.

Also completing their terms in office were State President Riley Nilsen from Nipomo, Vice President Valerie Canas from Santa Maria; State Treasurer Gage Willey from Nicolaus, State Reporter Sheldon Overton from McArthur and State Sentinel Hunter Berry from San Jacinto.

Star awards were presented to FFA members with Supervised Agriculture Experience projects that were exceptional. Named State Star Farmer was Joshua Allen of Firebaugh. Star in Ag Placement was Collin Fernandes of Tulare. Star in Agribusiness was Loren Mumby of Firebaugh. Star Reporter was Kaela Cooper of Templeton.

Nearly $30,000 in scholarships were awarded to FFA members during the conference.

Nicole Crouch of Galt and Cierra McClure of Lodi were awarded $1,000 scholarships from Actagro. The Almond Board of California awarded $1,000 scholarships to Brady Colburn, Rebecca Metz, Jesus Rios, Noah Sa, Scot Swan and Madison Zittel.

The Jerry L. Biggs Memorial Scholarship of $1,000 was awarded to Sierra Bryant. Betty Bushong Memorial Scholarships of $1,000 were awarded to Anna Gomes and Travis Vazquez. Jerry T. Davis Honorary Scholarship of $1,000 was awarded to Katie Fernandes. The $750 Paul Freitas Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Chase Steele. Hartford Insurance Scholarships were awarded to Trey Johnston, Tony Lopes and Cassidy Steenbock.

Mabel Jacks Memorial Scholarships went to Francesca Arnaudo, Andrew Francis and Haylee Saldivar. Byron J. McMahon Memorial Scholarship went to Christopher Sharp. The Dorothy McMillen Memorial Scholarship went to Caitlin Lopes. Vanessa Soto was awarded the Dean McNeilly Scholarship. Jaimie Lynne Pettey Memorial Scholarships went to Mackenzie Hurley, Briane LeBeau and Caitlin Stevenson.

Zenith Insurance Co. sponsored two $3,000 scholarships and two $2,000 scholarships. They were awarded to Dipak Kumar, Kelsey O’Donoghue, Mathew Ruby and Ashley Therien.

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New officers take the reins of Idaho FFA http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140415/new-officers-take-the-reins-of-idaho-ffa http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140415/new-officers-take-the-reins-of-idaho-ffa#Comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 10:47:39 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140419937 TWIN FALLS, Idaho – All smiles and teeming with adrenaline, Idaho FFA’s new state officers were ready to come up for air on Saturday after a relentless schedule during the 2014 State Leadership Conference in Twin Falls last week.

Their election as state officers hadn’t quite set in on Saturday, they said, but their emotions ranged from excitement, shock and awe to honored, blessed and overwhelmed.

The year ahead will be one of new experiences, getting to know and serving FFA members across the state, they said..

Garrett Brogan, 18, of Bear Lake, district president and now state sentinel, said he’s looking forward to getting to know members outside his district and representing Idaho at the national convention and competitions in other states.

Emily Hicks, 18, of Middleton, district and now state FFA reporter, said she is eager to travel, scouring the state of Idaho and neighboring states and building relationships with FFA members.

Sharing the FFA passion and opportunities with other members and potential members has already been a big part of her FFA experience and she expects that to reach new levels, she said.

Being state officers will allow the graduating seniors to share their passion for FFA, said Justin Nesbitt,18, of Meridian, district and now state treasurer.

“It’s our chance to make our mark and promote agriculture and FFA and help people see the benefits of agriculture,” he said.

Officers will represent the youth voice of agriculture and try to make a positive difference in the lives of FFA members, helping them through the tough spots and sharing the good experiences, said Clancy Johnston, 17 of New Plymouth, district vice president and state secretary.

One big thing the officers will face is implementing the Ag Education Initiative passed this year by the Idaho Legislature. That will mean promoting it and implementing new programs at the chapter level, said Amanda Hale, 18, of Rigby, district president and state vice president.

The legislation created quality standards, annual incentive grants based on those standards, start-up grants for ag education programs, and increased “added cost” funding for ag education classes.

“We need to show we are worth it and make sure those programs are used,” said Mitch Royer, 18, of Cambridge, district and new state president.

With all those goals ahead, the new officers met with outgoing officers for a little advice.

The outgoing officers stressed the importance of serving members and how members will serve officers, inspiring them and helping them to grow, Johnston and Hale said.

They also said every group of officers is different and every year is different, and the new officers will find their own way to accomplish FFA’s goals, said Royer and Hicks.

“We’ll write our own chapter together,” Hicks said.

Chapter? It’ll be a whole book, Royer said.

“I want to grow as a team through this year, get to know these guys better and become a perfect unit by the end of the year. And I want to have fun,” Royer said.

On Saturday, however, the new officers just wanted to eat, sleep and catch their breath.

They said they hadn’t decided yet if they’ll take a year off of school for their term as state officers, but all plan to pursue higher education. Royer, Hale, Hicks, and Brogan plan to attend the University of Idaho, and Johnston plans to attend Boise State University.

Royer plans to major in food science. Hale plans to major in ag economics. Johnston plans to pursue non-profit management. Hicks plans to major in environmental horticulture, and Brogan plans to pursue equine veterinary science.

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Idaho FFA taps Star members http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140415/idaho-ffa-taps-star-members http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20140415/idaho-ffa-taps-star-members#Comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 10:36:20 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140419940 TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Years of hard work and commitment paid of for four Idaho FFA members who were chosen for the organization’s highest honor — the state Star award — during the 2014 FFA State Leadership Conference April 11 at the College of Southern Idaho.

Kelsie Ward of Blackfoot claimed the honor of Star Farmer, Shane Spitz of Ashton grabbed the Star in Agricultural Placement, Molly Roberts of Midvale lassoed the Star in Agribusiness, and Jordan Cook of Shelly captured the Star for Agriscience.

District finalists in each of the categories from Idaho’s nine FFA districts compete to be top in the state. Being chosen as a Star is quite an honor, entails a lot of work, and represents commitment and achievement, the Stars’ advisers said.

Stars are chosen among students who earn their state FFA degree, earn a certain amount of money and complete a certain amount of community service, said Charles Ledington, ag adviser at Midvale High School.

Potential Stars participate in a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) for three or four years. SAEs are a hands-on work experience and a career opportunity to test students’ compatibility with a particular segment of agribusiness they choose, involving innumerable hours and extensive recordkeeping.

Their SAE program is a real-life experience they can build on for their future, and many projects turn into businesses, even large corporations, Ledington said.

Ward, 17, a senior at Snake River High School, grew barley and hay and raised registered and commercial livestock for her SAE project. The barley and hay were under contract, and she raised the commercial cows to work on embryo transplants along with her registered breed.

She’s a fifth-generation producer and works on the family farm in exchange for the use of the farm’s equipment. She plans pursue a degree in crop science or animal science, starting her college career at either College of Southern Idaho or BYU-Idaho, and intends to continue in the business after college.

"Agriculture is my life. I live it, breathe it and eat it. I can’t see myself doing something else," she said.

Her ag adviser, J.B. Hoge, said the Star Farmer is a great honor. It’s the highest award and takes a lot of commitment and a great project to achieve, he said.

Spitz, 18, is a senior at North Fremont High School who began working on a local farm in eighth grade. A couple of years later, he went to work for a different farm during the growing season and a motor sports store in the off-season.

He started out doing menial labor, but his responsibilities have grown with his knowledge and development. Now he’s trusted to plant, cultivate, maintain equipment and the center pivot, and harvest, said ag adviser Tom Jacobson.

The star award recognizes Spitz’s work ethic, desire to improve, quality hours and quality SAE project, said ag adviser Rob Bingham.

Spitz said he’s enlisted for a stint in the Marines but then plans to attend college and open his own custom-farming business.

Roberts, 17, is a junior at Midvale High School and partners with her father in the Roberts’ Mighty Mini-Mules of Midvale, a 12- and 16-hitch miniature mule team that performs at wild west shows, rodeos, fairs and parades.

She drives the two hind mules and her father drives the two lead mules. She’s been showing mules since she was 8 years old, with a few prestigious titles under her belt, and also trains mules and horses.

Not only did Roberts win a Star award, her SAE project was the top entrepreneurial project of the state degrees this year, ag adviser Ledbetter said.

Roberts said her work with equines takes a lot of time and effort, from feeding and training the animals to booking shows, doing the books and keeping the business in the spotlight with social media.

Roberts said she is really into the equine industry and is trying to get her name out as a trainer and an equine business person.

She intends to pursue a veterinary degree, starting her college career at College of Southern Idaho and moving on to the University of Idaho, she said.

Cook, 18, is a senior at Shelley High School who had watched other FFA members get star awards in the past and asked his ag advisers to help him grab one of his own.

He combined his SAE and senior projects to focus on helping people allergic to gluten or with celiac disease find an alternative to wheat flour. He took four varieties of oats, growing two from experimental seed, grinding them into flour and using it to make chocolate cakes.

He was looking for an affordable gluten-free flour that best compared to wheat flour. He performed taste testing with the cooperation of middle school, home economics students and found a commercially-grown oat variety performed the best, taking the top two rankings.

He then presented his findings to the public at a high school parent/teacher conference.

"Hopefully my results help somebody," he said.

The goal was to come up with an alternative to wheat flour, said ag adviser Vince Wray. Oat flour at health food stores is very expensive and doesn’t work well for baking.

Cook did a good job with the project, it was a great experience and he learned a lot. And the multi-year project will continue with another student working on the next phase, focusing on hull-less barley, next year, he said.

Cook will soon be heading off for a mission with the Church of Latter Day Saints and plans to pursue an engineering degree with an emphasis on welding, starting at University of Utah-Eastern and finishing at Weber State University

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Idaho FFA officers reflect on their tenure http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140408/idaho-ffa-officers-reflect-on-their-tenure http://www.capitalpress.com/FFA/20140408/idaho-ffa-officers-reflect-on-their-tenure#Comments Tue, 8 Apr 2014 15:45:44 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014140409901 Enthusiastic youth sporting their blue FFA jackets are descending this week on Twin Falls en masse for the 2014 State Leadership Conference.

Reflecting on their tenure, outgoing state officers said they spent the last year building their own skills and abilities and those of chapter members across Idaho.

It was like a “fast-paced skill ride,” said FFA President Brett Wilder, a freshman majoring in ag and natural resources education at the University of Idaho.

The year was filled with a lot of different emotions for FFA Secretary Alyssa Stastny, a sophomore majoring in horticulture at BYU-Idaho.

It “was a great opportunity for each of us to grow as individuals. We were able to see what our strengths were and learn more about ourselves … and the value of service,” she said.

The officers were put in a lot of stressful situations, but it was “great,” she said.

“There’s no growth in a comfort zone and no comfort in a growth zone,” she said.

“It has been an unforgettable experience, from seeing members across the state grow and develop to the opportunities to gain more skills and broaden your knowledge of agriculture,” said Sentinel Kyle Nesbitt, a sophomore in ag education at the University of Idaho.

The year of training, studying, traveling, and networking allowed the officers to use their skills to grow the skills of FFA members and make an impact, said Treasurer McKenzie Forsberg, a freshman in bioveterinary and dairy science at Utah State University.

It also allowed the officers to see more of what’s going on in Idaho’s ag industry and gain a better understanding in order to advocate for that industry, she said.

The year was one of memories and service, and the experiences were important to help officers better serve the members, said Reporter Erin Shenk, a freshman at the University of Idaho pursuing a degree in ag education.

The experience was exciting and eventful with a lot of curve balls, but even those were a “blast,” said Vice President Daniel Heikkila, a sophomore majoring in Ag Education and Environmental Resources at the University of Idaho.

The experience taught him that team members have to continue to work on communication to be effective, he said.

The goal of officers is to bring a level of passion and share the experiences students can look forward to as FFA members, Wilder said.

The opportunities offered by FFA abound, the officers said.

It gives students a chance to learn more and advocate for agriculture and to gain skills they need to be successful in college and any career of their choice, Forsberg said.

FFA is a unique program that provides leadership skills people can apply to real life to help them grow and develop the skills they’ll need to be successful in college and beyond “when the bank of mom and dad runs out,” Shenk said.

It provides opportunities not offered anywhere else. It develops every person regardless of where they came from or where they want to go,” Wilder said.

In addition to leadership skills, it offers hands-on training for practical application. For example, his training earned him welding, veterinary technology and parliamentarian certifications, he said.

FFA offers supervised ag experience and teaches members things they can take with them the rest of their lives, Nesbitt said.

There are 4,000 members in Idaho and more than a half million nationwide, and they each have their own experience through the opportunities offered, he said.

“More than anything else, FFA truly gives them (members) a place to find themselves and how they are going to react in the world and find success,” Heikkila said.

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