Capital Press | FFA Capital Press Wed, 26 Nov 2014 04:41:55 -0500 en Capital Press | FFA Mackay Idaho FFA chapter Attended 2014 National FFA Convention Thu, 20 Nov 2014 12:00:48 -0500 Mackay FFA Chapter Member Receives American FFA Degree Thu, 20 Nov 2014 11:15:50 -0500 Selena Gregory, a member of the Mackay FFA Chapter, recently received the American FFA Degree. This degree is given to less than one half of a percent of FFA members nationally. Selena is the third student from Mackay to have received this honor. She has worked towards earning her American Degree for the last five years.
She had three Supervised Agricultural Experience projects--one of which was managing the Mackay High School's aquaculture lab. In the aquaculture lab, she worked for four years to hatch Mountain Whitefish which are threatened in the Big Lost River. By hatching Mountain Whitefish she became the first to do so, as Mountain Whitefish require such incredible care due to the required environment and care. She received honors at the state level for her work by the Idaho FFA Association. Selena also worked with her cows and had an after school job.
Selena said that this was “an exciting experience and an honor to be receiving this award. It is a lot of time and effort--but completely worth it.”

Chelan FFA does well in state competitions Mon, 17 Nov 2014 16:03:42 -0500 Chelan FFA

215 W. Webster Ave

PO Box 369

Chelan, WA 98816

Chelan High School

Agriculture Education Department/Chelan FFA

News Release

For Immediate Release — Eleven members of the Chelan FFA were up bright an early to travel to the Washington State FFA Tractor Operators CDE and State FFA Potato Grading CDE in Moses Lake on Friday, Nov. 14, to match skills and knowledge with FFA members from all corners of the state.

In the Tractor CDE members had to take a knowledge test about tractor operation, maintenance and safety, complete a parts identification practicum, and then individually drive a course. The course required students to drive a course with a John Deere 5093 EN tractor and trailer through a serpentine of 5 cones both forwards and backwards then back in the trailer into a parking spot with 4 inches of clearance all under 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Students are evaluated on not touching or knocking over markers, riding the clutch, changing directions unnecessarily, skidding, reckless driving, and not deviating from the course.

The team of Luke Gleasman, Logan Fifer, and Ken Housley placed 9th and the Michael Tutino and Jake Horlebien placed 13th in the 31 team field.

In Potato Grading, students have to identify blemishes, grade Russet and Round Potato Varieties using industry standards for US No. 1, US No. 2 or Cull, evaluate seed potatoes, and do an oral reasons class where they grade 10 potatoes in 2 minutes giving 5 characteristics that establish the grade for each. The Chelan FFA was represented by Erick Straub, Dane Schwartz, Sarah Goyne, Bobby Hanson, Annadetra Doty and Stephanie Olivera and earned a 6th Place Plaque which is the first state award in the Potato CDE ever for the Chelan FFA.

Chelan members now switch their time and energy to the Apple CDE which will take up the next 3 weeks of after school time.

Pendleton FFA brings home national awards Mon, 10 Nov 2014 19:33:21 -0500 GEORGE PLAVENEO Media Group The future of Pendleton agriculture is in bright, capable hands after local students shined during the 87th annual National FFA Convention and Expo in Louisville, Ky.

Twelve kids competed at the event Oct. 29-Nov. 1 representing the Pendleton FFA chapter, which took home a three-star rating from the National FFA Organization — the highest possible level of excellence.

Adviser Patty Abell, who teaches agricultural science at Pendleton High School, said the award recognizes all the hard work and community service their chapter does outside the classroom. In particular, she mentioned the FFA’s “Food for All” program, which has helped deliver 18,000 pounds of fresh produce to needy families.

“It’s just the hard and positive attitudes of the kids,” Abell said. “No matter if you win or lose, I was just proud of what they did and what they accomplished.”

Other Pendleton FFA members also received individual and team honors. Danny Paul, a freshman at Blue Mountain Community College, won the National Agricultural Proficiency Award for Agricultural Mechanics Repair and Maintenance.

The award is another top honor for students who have developed a specialized skill they can apply toward their career. Paul has been working on trucks since he was 9 years old, and works side-by-side with his father, Troy, servicing and repairing big rigs. He plans to continue working as a diesel technician.

It is the first time a Pendleton FFA student has received the award.

Pendleton’s agricultural issues team also won a bronze medal for their Saturday Night Live-inspired skit about the pros and cons of growth hormones in dairy and beef cattle. It was the only medal awarded to an Oregon team this year.

“It’s hard at the high school level for kids to act and present information in a way everyone can understand,” Abell said. “Our kids did pretty well with it.”

The team featured PHS juniors James Bradt, Julia Livingston, Dakota McCambridge, Emily Wanous and Kaleigh Waggoner, as well as sophomore Chris Nickerson and BMCC freshman Delaney Paullus.

PHS sophomores Isabelle Chapman and Annalise Oertwich placed fourth in the nation for their social systems agriscience project focused on genetically modified organisms. BMCC sophomore Garrett Correa received his American FFA Degree, a prestigious award which is presented to less than 1 percent of all FFA members nationwide.

In her four years as an adviser, Abell said this is the most students they’ve ever sent to FFA Nationals. And she expects the success will only continue.

“There’s a lot of strong support from farmers and ranchers in the community,” she said. “All the kids are excited to jump on the bandwagon.”

Western students earn high marks at FFA nationals Mon, 3 Nov 2014 11:38:32 -0500 Matw Weaver Early mornings paid off for FFA students in Dayton, Ore.

Anna Forness, Joanna Kubes, Mitchell White and Keeanna West would arrive at 6:30 a.m. before school each day to practice for the upcoming agricultural sales career development event competitions, which are known by the initials CDEs.

Forness, Kubes, White and West brought home first place from the National FFA Convention and Expo, held Oct. 29-Nov. 1 in Louisville, Ky.

“They’re a great team, they’re hard workers, and it’s just a great reward for all the hard work that they do,” said Mitch Coleman, advisor of the Dayton FFA chapter. “It is such a fulfillment of the whole plan: You set a goal, you set the objectives and then you work hard.”

Coleman said part of the goal of FFA is to give students new experiences and provide the opportunity to compete against the best the FFA has to offer.

“To win first is really a pretty high honor,” he said. “It’s just a great reward to see all of that hard work pay off with that plaque and they get to walk across the stage in front of the whole convention. Their names are called out and they step in the light, that’s pretty awesome.”

More than 64,000 FFA members from across the nation attended the annual event.

Those individuals and teams from the West who placed first in the nation include:

• Zachary Vandehey of Hermiston, Ore., FFA in Agricultural Communications CDE

• Anna Forness, Joanna Kubes, Mitchell White, and Keeanna West of Dayton, Ore., FFA in Agricultural Sales CDE

• Alyssa McGee, Natalie Santo-Domingo, Corrina Karrer, and David Kurz, of Sumner, Wash., FFA in Environmental and Natural Resources CDE

• Calli Hyder of Yelm FFA, Wash., in Job Interview CDE

• Mikaela Fringer, Shyann Mattes, Bailey Samper, and Jordyn Samper of Minarets, Calif., FFA in Livestock Evaluation CDE

• Mark Borges, Zach Rose, Madelyn Vaca, and Kristen Voss of Hughson, Calif., FFA in Poultry Evaluation CDE

• Zach Rose of Hughson, Calif. FFA, in Poultry Evaluation CDE

• Amber Bjerre, Darcy Hummel, Brynn Robella, and Hailey Robella of San Luis Obispo, Calif., FFA in Veterinary Science CDE

Western chapters and members who placed include:

Top-Placing Individuals: Zachary Vandehey of Hermiston FFA (first place)

Top Placing Teams: Zachary Vandehey, Jaycee Barron, and Reilly Mason, Hermiston, Ore., FFA (fourth place)

Holly McKinley, Bailee Mulder, and Trisha Snydar, Lynden, Wash. FFA (fifth place)

Alejandro Renteria, Katelyn Vanderspek, Vincente Robles, Graciela Barajas, and Zachary Ziemer, Galt, Calif., FFA (second place)

Individuals: Mitchell White of Dayton, Ore. (fourth place), Joanna Kubes of Dayton, Ore., (eighth place)

Teams: Anna Forness, Joanna Kubes, Mitchell White, and Keeanna West, of Dayton, Ore., FFA (first place)

Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems:

Individuals: Giancarlo Kamesch of Atwater FFA, Calif. (10th place)

Teams: Joseph Kamesch, Luis Favela, and Giancarlo Kameschof Atwater, Calif., FFA (sixth place)

Brian Campbell, Ryan Frederick, Matthew Leffel, and B.J. White of Lind-Ritzville, Wash., FFA (seventh place)

Individuals: Tony Lopes of Gustine, Calif., FFA (sixth place)

Teams: Alexandria Lopes, Tony Lopes, Lexie Nunes, and Makayla Toste of Gustine,Calif. FFA (second place)

Individuals: Bret Kindall of Cambridge, Idaho, FFA (third place)

Alyssa McGee of Sumner, Wash., FFA (fourth place)

Teams: Alyssa McGee, Natalie Santo-Domingo, Corrina Karrer, and David Kurz of Sumner, Wash., FFA (first place)

Individuals: Katherine Smith of Lynden, Wash. FFA (10th place)

Teams: Christina Schram, Justin Nesbitt, Kristin Nesbitt, and Clayton Christensen of Meridian, Idaho, FFA (fifth place)

Individuals: Kelsey O’Donoghue of Liberty Ranch, Calif. FFA (eighth place)

Teams: Olivia Piehler, Ruth Pilat, Kendal Schorr, and Morgan Zender of Mount Baker, Wash. FFA (third place)

Brooke Hinders, Sarah Doberneck, Kelsey O’Donoghue, and Mia Thornton of Liberty Ranch, Calif., FFA (sixth place)

Danica Kluth, Mallory Leazer, Sierra Stucki, and Kayte Garren of Kimberly, Idaho, FFA

Individuals: Dani Kenoyer of Cashmere, Wash., FFA, (fourth place)

Kaylee McKay of Kimberly, Idaho, FFA (ninth place)

Teams: Haley Martin, Hannah Asmussen, Dani Kenoyer, and Kelley Simpson, all of Cashmere, Wash., FFA (fourth place)

Jacob Reinecker, Bre’Onne Hilliard, Tyler Sanchez, and Colt Stowell, all of Vallivue, Idaho, FFA (10th place)

Individuals: Emily Haak of Molalla, Ore., FFA,(fifth place)

Zoe Strachan-Payne of Davis, Calif., FFA (sixth place)

Lauren Sutkus of Davis, Calif., FFA, (eighth place)

Teams: Zoe Strachan-Payne, Ashley Brown, Lauren Sutkus, and Macey Galloway of Davis, Calif., (second place)

Codi Edwards, Emily Haak, Paige Kapeiski, and Cheyenne Gibbons of Molalla, Ore., FFA (third place)

Calli Hyder of Yelm, Wash., FFA (first place)

Individuals: Mikaela Fringer of Minarets, Calif., FFA (second place)

Jordyn Samper of Minarets, Calif., FFA (fourth place)

Shyann Mattes of Minarets, Calif., FFA (10th place)

Teams: Mikaela Fringer, Shyann Mattes, Bailey Samper, and Jordyn Samper of Minarets, Calif., FFA (first place)

Lindsey McPeake, Shannon Tacy, Meghan King, and Delaney Hood of Bend, Ore., FFA (seventh place)

Hallie Galbreath, Dinah Gadberry, and Taylor Kulm of Lind-Ritzville, Wash. FFA (fourth place)

Morgan Byrom, Morgan Henson, Nicholas Lookabaugh, and Jordon Williams of Clovis, Calif., FFA (fourth place)

Madison Harder, Tyler Frederick, Cort Ruzika, and Tyler O’Brien of Lind-Ritzville, Wash., FFA (fifth place)

Individuals: Brittany Tevelde of Lynden Christian, Wash., FFA (second place)

Joseph Avila-Vargas of Atwater, Calif., FFA (seventh place)

Teams: Joseph Avila-Vargas, Hans Van Warmerdam, Goldi Vang, and Katelyn Baptista of Atwater, Calif., FFA (fifth place)

Makayla Borge, Raanna Dahle, Melody Mahler, and Lucas Tesnohlidek of Fruitland Idaho,FFA (sixth place)

Samantha Buhrig, Alexus Bodily, Carli Erstrom, and Makaylee Reed, all of Vale High School, Ore., FFA (eighth place)

Bailey Bivens, Fallyn Foster, Taylor Foster, Ellen Van Noy, David Pettinato, and Maxie Holmberg-Douglas, all of Nevada Union, Calif. FFA (fourth place)

Individuals: Zach Rose of Hughson, Calif., FFA (first place)

Mark Borges of Hughson, Calif., FFA (fourth place)

Nathanael Mueller of Elma, Wash., FFA (sixth place)

Teams: Mark Borges, Zach Rose, Madelyn Vaca, and Kristen Voss of Hughson, Calif., FFA (first place)

Benjamin Peterson of San Luis Obispo, Calif., FFA (second place)

Juan Gavette of Lynden, Wash., FFA (fourth place)

Individuals: Amber Bjerre of San Luis Obispo, Calif. FFA (first place)

Patrick Krinke of Meridian, Idaho FFA (third place)

Catie Juneau of Ferndale, Wash., FFA (eighth place)

Brynn Robella of San Luis Obisp, Calif., FFA (ninth)

Idaho students get ‘big picture’ look at world ag Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:24:31 -0500 Sean Ellis 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.”

District FFA digs up the dirt on soil Thu, 2 Oct 2014 09:14:21 -0500 GEORGE PLAVENEast Oregonian 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.


Contact George Plaven at or 541-564-4547.

UI showcases ag opportunities for high school students Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:09:13 -0500 Matw Weaver 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.”


FFA students staff seed trailer at fair Wed, 3 Sep 2014 10:49:57 -0500 John O’Connell 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 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.

Grant allows Nyssa ag program to build greenhouse Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:28:44 -0500 Sean Ellis 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.”

Amid footing concerns, FFA cancels horse show Wed, 20 Aug 2014 12:30:41 -0500 CASEY MINTER 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.

Washington FFA gets new executive director Thu, 14 Aug 2014 15:42:27 -0500 Matw Weaver 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.”

Melba lands $8,000 grant for ag program Tue, 5 Aug 2014 09:40:35 -0500 Sean Ellis 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.

Livestock camps prepare kids for fair time Fri, 11 Jul 2014 11:33:54 -0500 John O’Connell 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.

Student to give cattle showmanship clinic Mon, 7 Jul 2014 11:35:13 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas 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

DAYS OF AGRICULTURE EQUAL DAYS OF SUCCESS Fri, 6 Jun 2014 11:27:48 -0500 Career development events give FFA members ‘real world’ preview Thu, 5 Jun 2014 09:47:18 -0500 Matw Weaver 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.

Calf scramble event raises $22,000 Tue, 3 Jun 2014 09:59:24 -0500 Sean Ellis 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.”

Search continues for FFA leadership center site Wed, 28 May 2014 10:13:34 -0500 Eric Mortenson 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 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.”

Washington FFA members honored at White House Tue, 27 May 2014 13:01:22 -0500 Carl Sampson 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.

Donated trucks promote FFA message Tue, 20 May 2014 09:31:54 -0500 Matw Weaver 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.

New Washington FFA president reaches out Mon, 19 May 2014 15:32:55 -0500 Matw Weaver 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.

Washington FFA looks to connect to industry Mon, 19 May 2014 10:38:27 -0500 Matw Weaver 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.”


Homedale thanks departing FFA advisor Wed, 14 May 2014 10:04:11 -0500 Sean Ellis 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.”

Washington FFA convention set May 15-17 Thu, 1 May 2014 13:32:12 -0500 Matw Weaver 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.”