Capital Press | FFA Capital Press Mon, 21 Aug 2017 16:47:30 -0400 en Capital Press | FFA FFA members scramble to catch a calf Mon, 7 Aug 2017 10:57:44 -0400 Ellie HigginsMeridian, Idaho, FFA Reporter Catch that calf! In the heat of the 2017 Snake River Stampede Calf Scramble, Meridian FFA members can only focus on the possibility of getting a heifer of their own. In this annual event, competitors try to catch a calf, halter their catch and bring the calf into the center of the arena. Each calf-catching participant, plus each winner of the sportsmanship award, will receive a $1,000 grant toward a purebred registered beef heifer of their own.

This year, three Meridian FFA chapter members competed in the Calf Scramble. Jon Muniz, Kyleigh Davis and Ellie Higgins competed on Tuesday, July 18, with Jon and Kyleigh both catching calves. Ellie returned on Saturday, July 22, and received the sportsmanship award. All three members will be receiving a $1,000 grant, and will be able to purchase a beef heifer that they will bring back in one year to show at the Calf Scramble Cattle Show.

On the morning of Tuesday, July 18, the 2016 Calf Scramble winners brought their beef heifers to the show. These members got to show off their hard work by competing in showmanship and quality. Meridian FFA members Siera Horton (2nd place in showmanship), Gunner Glineski (1st place in quality), Cameron King (3rd place in quality), Joe Wieting, Mollie Hiscox, Kayla Shubert, and Zack Davis returned with their animals to showcase their year of hard work.

The Meridian FFA chapter owes many thanks to the Calf Scramble Committee, and all others who make this event possible. Without this program, many members would never be able to experience the joys of raising cattle, or the feeling of catching one bare-handed!

National FFA names 2017 American Star award finalists Sun, 23 Jul 2017 18:47:13 -0400 INDIANAPOLIS — the National FFA Organization on July 21 selected 16 students from throughout the U.S. as finalists for its 2017 top achievement awards: American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience.

The American Star Awards represents the best of the best among thousands of American FFA Degree recipients, FFA officials said in a press release. The award recognizes FFA members who have developed outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through the completion of a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program.

A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows members to learn by doing. Members can own and operate an agricultural business, intern at an agricultural business or conduct an agriculture-based scientific experiment and report the results.

Other requirements to achieve the award include demonstrating top management skills; completing key agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements; and earning an American FFA Degree, the organization’s highest level of student accomplishment.

A panel of judges will interview finalists and select one winner for each award at the 90th National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct. 25-28 in Indianapolis. The four winners will be announced during an onstage ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 26.

ADM Crop Risk Services, Case IH, Elanco and Syngenta sponsor the American FFA Degree recognition program.

The finalists include:

American Star Farmer

Joseph Arnold of the Lac qui Parle Valley FFA Chapter in Minnesota

Nickolas James Vollmer of the Merino FFA Chapter in Colorado

Jake Fanning of the Laverne FFA Chapter in Oklahoma

Mark Cavallero of the Madera FFA Chapter in California

American Star in Agribusiness

Nathan M. DeYoung of the Shenandoah FFA Chapter in Indiana

Austin D. Nordyke of the Hugoton FFA Chapter in Kansas

Audra Montgomery of the Carrington FFA Chapter in North Dakota

Shaun Wenrick of the Anna FFA Chapter in Ohio

American Star in Agricultural Placement

Matthew S. Ries of the Lomira FFA Chapter in Wisconsin

Devin Debruhl of the Shenandoah FFA Chapter in Indiana

Kellie Mae Einck of the South O’Brien FFA Chapter in Iowa

Bailey Wilson of the Pilot Point FFA Chapter in Texas

American Star in Agriscience

Chrysta Noelle Beck of the Pettisville FFA Chapter in Ohio

Elizabeth Baker-Mikesell of the Greenwood FFA Chapter in Pennsylvania

Leah Danielle Hefty of the DeKalb FFA Chapter in Indiana

Loren Gregory King of the Branch Area Career Centers FFA Chapter in Michigan

Visit for more information about the American Star Awards.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 649,355 student members who belong to one of 7,859 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 225,891 alumni members in 1,934 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.

Washington, D.C., leadership conference instills importance of community service Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:54:51 -0400 Marsing, Idaho, FFA members Logan Stansell and Ashley Loucks have returned from the Washington Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., where they took part in an extensive development program and visited some of the nation’s capital’s most important historic sites.

Stansell is the chapter vice president and Loucks is the chapter secretary. They were accompanied by advisory board chairwoman and Marsing teacher Wendy Stansell during the July 11-16 session.

They were among many FFA members from throughout the country who converged on the nation’s capital this summer to evaluate their personal skills and interests, develop leadership and create service plans that will make a difference in their communities.

Stansell said highlights of the week included Arlington National Cemetery changing of the guard, the monument night tour, the Mount Vernon tour and meeting chapter members from across the U.S. He roomed with students from North Dakota, Alabama and Wisconsin.

Loucks said the highlights for her were Arlington, Mount Vernon and roommates from Wisconsin, Kentucky and Missouri.

More than 2,300 students attended the Washington Leadership Conference, the second-largest student event that the National FFA Organization hosts each year, according to an FFA press release. It was created in 1969 and is held annually.

FFA members attended the conference during one of seven weeks through July 29. They spent the week under the guidance of professionals, counselors and FFA staff.

In workshops, seminars and small groups, members focused on identifying and developing their personal strengths and goals while undergoing comprehensive leadership training that will help them guide their local FFA chapters. The capstone of the event was a civic engagement activity where participants applied what they learned to a hands-on activity.

Members also analyzed the needs of their communities, developed wide-ranging and high-impact community service initiatives and will implement their plans with the help of their FFA chapters upon return home. Students in recent years have promoted agricultural literacy, brought attention to abuse, collected and distributed shoes to individuals in Haiti and created a hunger awareness plan.

FFA members also experienced the history of the nation’s capital and toured landmarks including the Washington Monument, War Memorial, the National Mall, Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Capitol. Members also had an opportunity to participate in congressional visits during the week.

The 2017 Washington Leadership Conference was sponsored by title sponsors CSX, Monsanto, Farm Credit and weekly sponsor Valent. For more information, visit

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 649,355 student members who belong to one of 7,859 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 225,891 alumni members in 1,934 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.

Retired ag teacher receives national service citation Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:38:44 -0400 Craig Reed ELKTON, Ore. — Retired agricultural teacher Denny Quinby was recently honored as one of only six individuals nationwide who received the National Association of Agricultural Educators Outstanding Service Citation.

Quinby retired in 2010 after a 31-year educational career as the ag teacher and FFA advisor at Elkton High School. He chartered the ag program at the school in 1980.

“I feel very honored,” he said. “But I don’t do things in life for recognition. I don’t want to be on the stage. I want the kids to be up there on the stage. Keeping kids in school in order for them to graduate, that was always my ultimate goal, not the recognition.”

So when looking for Quinby, look behind the scenes of the Douglas County Lamb Show or the Douglas County Fair. He is all about the kids and their animal projects at those events getting the spotlight while he helps with advice and guidance from the sidelines.

But thanks to a couple of his younger colleagues who initiated his nomination, Quinby was selected for the national service citation. He was recognized for his many contributions to his profession, both while teaching and continuing into retirement. He has been the chairman of the Lamb Show committee for the past five years and has helped with ag courses and projects at some county schools since retiring.

Quinby and his wife, Shortie, established the Elkton Wranglers 4-H Club and were its leaders for 30 years until retiring from it in 2010.

During his career at Elkton High, Quinby had two students become state FFA officers. He supervised many students through traditional and nontraditional agricultural experiences — projects related to agriculture that helped the students connect classroom learning to real-world activities.

Rachel Kostman, the ag science teacher at Oakland High School and a former student of Quinby’s at Elkton, said the Umpqua District ag teachers nominated Quinby for the award.

“He has devoted his life to ag education,” Kostman said. “Even in retirement he has stayed involved, mentoring young teachers in the district and inspiring students to learn hands-on applicable skills. He has a passion for agriculture and for agricultural education.”

Quinby has remained active in the FFA Forestry Career Development Event, a competition that develops student skills related to diagnosing forest disorders and managing forests. He has helped at the district and state level competitions and has coached forestry teams from Elkton and Oakland that have competed at the national level.

In the nomination letter that was submitted on behalf of Quinby by the Umpqua District, his continuing efforts to mentor both teachers and students were emphasized.

“Mr. Quinby has taken the role as a mentor to the current advisor (Braden Groth) of the Elkton agriculture program and other advisors in the district, a leadership role that is unmeasurable. Though he is retired, he still has a positive impact on students through his active role in the agricultural educational community. He still has, and always will have, a heart for kids.”

Even while helping others, Quinby does have his own agricultural projects at his home in the Elkton area — a mother cow and sheep operation.

“I guess I’ve just done some things right,” he said of the recognition. “I wouldn’t have done any of this if I hadn’t enjoyed it. I’ve done this for the betterment of the kids and the school system. If you want to help kids improve themselves, you have to give them your time.”

Ohio county fair hogs to be destroyed after swine flu found Fri, 14 Jul 2017 12:28:35 -0400 WILMINGTON, Ohio (AP) — State officials have ordered the slaughter of nearly 300 hogs at a county fair in Ohio after at least two animals tested positive for swine flu.

WLWT-TV reports a Clinton County fair representative confirmed Thursday that hogs had tested positive and would be slaughtered.

An Ohio Department of Agriculture spokesman said Friday that the fair will disinfect the barn and its contents to stop any spread of the virus. Department spokesman Mark Bruce says any equipment inside the barn will be released to owners after disinfection.

Hog breeder Joey Johnson says it’s been difficult, especially for children whose animals will be slaughtered.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says when humans are infected with swine flu it’s typically transmitted by prolonged exposure to hogs at agricultural fairs.

4-H, FFA members gear up for California State Fair Mon, 26 Jun 2017 14:18:24 -0400 Tim Hearden SACRAMENTO — 4-H and FFA members throughout the Golden State are gearing up to face big-league competition at the California State Fair on July 14-30.

Entrants at the Sacramento County Fair over the Memorial Day weekend were offered the added benefit of doing a dry run at the facility where the state fair is held — Cal Expo.

FFA member Joshua Vargas of Elk Grove, Calif., said he knew of a few students at the county event who planned to go on to the state fair. For them, the competitions at the smaller gathering were an opportunity to know where to improve.

“The judges will tell you what to work on and what they want to see more of,” he said.

More than 4,000 animals are entered in youth and local divisions at the state fair each year. Exhibits in the fair’s livestock building and adjacent shaded stalls are shown in shifts, and the fair offers showmanship awards and prizes in different classes for youths.

Agriculture will again take center stage at the 164th state fair, whose theme this year is “Come One, Come All!”

One of the most popular destinations for attendees is the 34-year-old farm, where a local chef will offer cooking demonstrations with locally grown produce. Other farm features will include a daily farmers’ market, an aquaculture exhibit, a hydroponic greenhouse and an insect pavilion.

In addition, an exhibit called Farmyard Follies will feature goats, sheep, llamas and a spotted donkey from the Great American Petting Zoo, offering fairgoers a chance to learn about animals and see them up close.

Fair-related festivities kicked off June 22 with the State Fair Gala at Cal Expo, which raises funds for the Friends of the California State Fair Student Scholarship Fund.

Fair officials presented this year’s Agriculturalist of the Year award to Tom Nassif, chief executive officer of Western Growers, for highlighting the need for immigration reform and pushing for a new specialty-crop title in the Farm Bill.

Among other ag-related honorees, Paul Draper of the Cupertino-based Ridge Vineyards received the Wine Lifetime Achievement Award and Dutton Ranch Vineyards in Sebastopol received the Vineyard of the Year Award.

That morning, fair chief executive officer Rick Pickering and local dignitaries honored the Best of Show winners for the Commercial Wine, Cheese, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Commercial Beer competition in front of the state Capitol.

For more details on activities, visit the fair’s website, .

Meridian, Idaho, FFA banquet highlights year’s successes Fri, 16 Jun 2017 15:58:42 -0400 Ellie HigginsMeridian FFA Chapter Reporter At the 77th annual Meridian FFA Chapter banquet, held May 1 at the West Ada District Service Center, members were rewarded for a year of hard work and dedication. Friends, families, and community members — all of whom have made an impact in the lives of Meridian FFA members — were invited to attend the banquet.

Awards, ranging from scholarships to pins to plaques, were awarded to freshmen through senior members and to community members.

The Letter Award is an award allowing members to “letter” as a result of their excellence in FFA activities. This award was given to 34 freshman members, 11 second-year members, 12 third-year members and 6 fourth-year members.

The Scholarship Award, a recognition of members that uphold high academic standards, and the Record Keeping Award, a recognition of members who maintain impressive records on their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects, are additionally awarded to freshmen through senior members. Those awarded the Scholarship Award included 9 freshman members, 8 sophomore members, 10 junior members and 6 senior members.

Those awarded the Record Keeping award included 10 freshman members, 6 sophomore members, 5 junior members and four senior members.

Select chapter members are recognized for their exemplary achievements in the Meridian FFA Chapter, Career Development Events (CDEs), and their SAE projects.

The Star Greenhand Award is given to first year, Greenhand Degree recipients who display characteristics that all first-year FFA members should strive to achieve. These members included Courtney Marshall, Olivia Sells, Kennedy Cox, Rose Frazee, Sierra Hennessy and Hunter Patterson.

The Outstanding Second Year and Third Year Awards are given to second- and third-year members who have continued to show truly outstanding success throughout their time in FFA. These members included Brock Shurtz, Issac Livesay, Cameron King, Sydney Plum, Cassidey Plum, and Rachel Mansfield as Second Year recipients, and Kaitlin Muniz, Joe Wieting, Ellie Higgins, Ashton Shaul, Mollie Hiscox, Trinity Martin, and Cody Duff as Third Year recipients.

Finally, Proficiencies are given to students who have excelled with their SAE projects. In the area of Science Entrepreneurship, recipients included Ellie Higgins (silver), Rachel Mansfield (silver), and Alexa Phillips (gold).

In the Small Animal Production Entrepreneurship area, the recipients were Zach Phillips (bronze), Lauren Barker (silver), Rachel Mansfield (silver), and Sarah Jane St. Michell (gold).

In the Veterinary Science Exploratory area, the recipient was Sami Kennel (gold).

In the Diversified Livestock Entrepreneurship area, the recipients included Ellie Higgins (silver), Ashton Shaul (silver), and Joe Wieting (gold).

In the Swine Production Entrepreneurship area, the recipient was Ashley Kerby (gold). In the Agricultural Mechanics and Design Exploratory area, the recipient was Ellie Higgins (gold). In the Food Science and Technology Placement area, the recipient was Joe Wieting (gold).

And finally, in the Dairy Cattle Entrepreneurship area, the recipients included Jordan Bettencourt (gold), and Sierra Horton (gold).

Individual FFA and community members who have made an incredible impact in the Meridian chapter, and the world of agriculture, are additionally recognized. Honorary Chapter Degree Members are “farmers, school superintendents, principals, members of boards of education, chapter advisors, teachers, staff members in agricultural education, business people and others” according to the National FFA Bylaws.

This year’s Meridian FFA Honorary Chapter Degree recipients were Mrs. Jill Lillienkamp, Jim and Colleen Schmit, Chris and Kendra Lacy, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Anika Phillips, Mike Farris, Ms. Bly, Ms. Mosman, and Ms, Higer.

Scholarships and Individual Awards are given to FFA senior members who, throughout their time in school and FFA, have proven that they will continue their success throughout life.

Many awards were given, including the Fred Beckman Good Citizen Award, presented to Bailey Josoff; the Ada County Farm Bureau Scholarship, presented to Alexa Phillips, Kiara Wetzel, and Andrew Heikkila; Charlie Stevens Memorial Scholarship, presented to Ashlyn Schiers; the Steve Russell Work Horse Award, presented to Kobe Manzer; the Clay Tully Memorial Scholarship, presented to Zach Phillips; the Alumni Scholarship, presented to Kyle Schmi, Ashlyn Schiers, Loretta Lacy, Alexa Phillips, Hannah Smith, Lauren Barker, and Mallie Miller; the Gene & Marge Muller Scholarship, presented to Alexa Phillips; the Outstanding FFA Chairman award, sponsored by Washington Trust Bank, was presented to Kobe Manzer; the Most Improved FFA Member award, sponsored by Investment Resources, was presented to Kiara Wetzel; the FFA Senior Achievement award, sponsored by Dynamite Feeds, was presented to Mallie Miller; the Outstanding FFA Member award, sponsored by CFI Investments, was presented to Loretta Lacy and Ashlyn Schiers; the Outstanding Shop Student award, sponsored by Norco Inc., was presented to Zach Phillips; the Star Chapter Agribusiness Degree, sponsored by DL Evans Bank, was presented to Lauren Barker; the Star Chapter Farmer Degree, sponsored by Columbia Bank, was presented to Alexa Phillips; and finally, the Outstanding Senior FFA Leadership award, sponsored by Western States Equipment, was presented to Kyle Schmit.

Finally, the newly elected Meridian FFA 2017-2018 Chapter Officers were inducted into their positions. These officers included Representatives Siera Horton, Jonathan Muniz, Kaden McCarney, Cassidey Plum, and Sydney Plum; Parliamentarian Kaitlyn Steppe; Alumni Representative Isaac Livesay; Yearbook Staff members Madison Belanger, Kaitlin Belanger, and Lyric Snurkowski; Yearbook Chief Rachel Mansfield; Sentinel Cody Duff; Reporter Ellie Higgins; Treasurer Cameron King; Secretary Trinity Martin; Vice President Ashton Shaul; and President Joseph Wieting. The new Meridian Chapter Officers will go on throughout their year of service to represent the chapter with leadership, hard work, and a passion for agriculture.

Ag, Interior secretaries vow to partner with states, communities Fri, 2 Jun 2017 15:50:10 -0400 Sean Ellis BOISE ­— U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited Idaho together June 2 and vowed to partner closely with states and communities on land management and other issues.

The two federal agencies plan to work closer together — and want to work closely as partners with states and communities, the secretaries told several hundred people at Boise State University.

“We’re aware that one size doesn’t fit all,” Perdue told the crowd, which included leaders of Idaho’s farming and ranching industries.

He said the agencies’ seriousness about giving local residents a real opportunity to impact federal policy was evidenced by their visit, which included a private breakfast meeting with 10 farmers and ranchers.

“We’re here to make that commitment to you today,” said Perdue, whose comments about partnering with states and communities were echoed by Zinke. “We’re (here) talking direct, eyeball-to-eyeball. We’re going to make a (change) in the way we do business.”

Zinke said one of his main focuses in the coming years will be building trust. “We have to re-establish that collaborative effort (of) working with communities,” he said.

The two secretaries were accompanied by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, a Republican rancher, who told Capital Press the visit was historic.

“Having the two of them here, together, in complete agreement with what their agencies’ relationship ought to be with the state is probably the most refreshing thing politically that I have seen in a long time,” Otter said.

During a question-and-answer session with the media, Otter said the secretaries’ message was clear: “There’s a new sheriff in town and there’s a whole new idea called collaboration and working together.”

The pair’s visit was praised by Idaho ag leaders who met with them during the private breakfast.

“The fact that we had two secretaries in Idaho at the same time to talk about natural resource issues was absolutely unprecedented,” said Laurie Lickley, a cattle rancher from Jerome.

During the meeting with the public at BSU, Perdue said, “I think it’s time we start looking at forests as crops and use them,” which drew praise from Idaho Farm Bureau Federation President Bryan Searle, a farmer from Shelley.

“I thought that was phenomenal because that’s exactly right,” Searle said. “That’s our problem now — we’ve got too much fuel out there, old timber’s falling down and we haven’t treated them like crops.”

Several Idaho FFA members attended the BSU meeting, and Perdue praised that group at least twice.

“The young people to your left are what gives me hope and optimism” about agriculture’s future, he said to one person sitting next to a group of FFA members wearing the group’s iconic blue jackets.

Perdue said FFA members “are getting the best leadership training of any youth group in the country, bar none. ... I’m optimistic about the future of people like you.”

Kansas woman fights to keep state fair champion lamb title Fri, 26 May 2017 10:09:05 -0400 WASHINGTON, Kan. (AP) — A northern Kansas woman is fighting a decision by state fair officials to strip her champion lamb title and winnings because of alleged performance enhancement.

Kansas State University student Gabryelle Gilliam’s market lamb was crowned grand champion at the Kansas State Fair in September, the Hutchinson News reported. But in January, Gilliam was officially disqualified for “unethical fitting.”

The Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Dr. Paul Grosdidier said he concluded after a carcass exam soon after the fair that a natural substance was injected into the animal “within a few days” of inspection. State fair rules prohibit treating animals with a substance to alter its body in any way.

Gilliam alleged in Reno County District Court documents that the fair’s actions weren’t supported by substantial evidence and the officials acted beyond their jurisdiction. She said she wants the disqualification overturned.

Gilliam’s father, Jerry Gilliam, told fair officials that neither he nor his family members injected the lamb, and that they were with the animal throughout the duration of the fair. Disqualification for Gilliam means losing the grand champion award, which the fair’s website says is $4,000 for the 2017 champion.

The Kansas Attorney General’s office is seeking until June 21 to respond to Gilliam’s complaint.

State fair general manager Susan Sankey said the fair has adopted the National Show Ring Code of Ethics.

Brown restores FFA, career tech funding after outcry from supporters Tue, 23 May 2017 11:56:54 -0400 Tim Hearden SACRAMENTO — After hearing an outcry from FFA advocates, Gov. Jerry Brown has reinserted funding in his budget proposal for high school agriculture education and career technical programs.

California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross reassured teachers that the $15.4 million for FFA and related programs zeroed out in Brown’s May 11 revised ledger has been put back in.

“Please be assured, Governor Brown remains committed to ongoing funding for these programs … through the California Department of Education,” Ross told educators in an email. “While one-time funding was used to support these programs in the current year, the governor is committed to ongoing funding for these programs for 2017-18 and beyond.”

The decision pleased Anna Canon, an agriculture teacher and FFA adviser at Orland High School. The school’s ag program has 218 students, or roughly one-third of the entire student body, she said.

“When this came up with the budget cuts, we were asked to bring kids to the Capitol,” Canon said. “That (funding) is how we are able to do what we do. Now the governor’s office is supporting ongoing funding.”

The proposed cut was part of a plan to boost spending for community colleges by $160 million to, among other goals, improve students’ employment opportunities.

Whether the FFA allocation will be moved back from the community college fund or found elsewhere is yet to be determined by Brown and legislators, said Jim Aschwanden, the California Agricultural Teachers Association’s executive director.

“We have to work those details out,” he said. “I haven’t seen the details yet, but the commitment is there to fund it.”

Brown’s reversal came after parents, students and other FFA advocates took to social media to rally support for the programs. Last week, 65 legislators sent a letter to the governor and to budget committee leaders asking that the funding be restored.

The $15.4 million represents the state’s total contribution to FFA and other programs, including one for future business leaders, a family and consumer sciences program and SkillsUSA, a career and technical student organization, Aschwanden said.

“What this money has enabled them to do is hold leadership conferences and bring state officers together to do leadership training for their chapters throughout the state,” he said.

Of the 114,000 California students that would have been affected by the cut, 86,000 are in FFA, which has a foundation to help raise money but relies on the $250,000 state allocation as “base funding,” he said.

“If there weren’t an FFA program, kids wouldn’t have the ability to develop leadership skills and a work ethic and (learn how to) manage money,” said Staci Alves, an agriculture teacher at Willows High School.

Budget negotiations at the Capitol have been ongoing since Brown presented his $124 billion revised ledger. The Democrat-controlled Legislature must approve a 2017-18 budget by June 15.

FFA members help special-needs kids raise goats for county fair Tue, 23 May 2017 10:07:45 -0400 Tim Hearden ORLAND, Calif. — All her life, Amanda Houtrouw dreamed of raising her own goat and taking it to auction at her county fair.

This year, thanks to the mentorship of her fellow FFA members in Willows, Calif., she got the chance.

Houtrouw was one of six students with special needs who took part in her school’s first Mighty Honker Goat Project, which paired them with mentors who helped them raise, present and sell goats at the Glenn County Fair on May 18-21.

“I learned how to walk a goat and to clean his pen,” she said, adding that she and her mentor, Gina Amaro, will be friends forever.

The project was created by Willows High School senior Makaylee Lindsey, who saw a similar project at a fair in Southern California, she said.

“I went to the county fair in Santa Barbara and my cousin was a part of the program,” Lindsey said. “I decided to bring the program here.”

She rallied local businesses and agriculture boosters to donate materials and help with the cost, which was about $1,000 per student.

The students with intellectual disabilities were each given a goat purchased by donors in February, and they accompanied their mentors three afternoons a week to the high school’s farm to work with their animals.

The youngsters fed their goats, cleaned the stalls, weighed their goats and practiced showing the animals.

One of the students, Ryan Torres, and his mentor, Luis Garcia, raised the grand champion goat.

“It’s awesome,” said Staci Alves, an agriculture teacher at Willows High. “It kind of brought tears to everyone’s eyes.”

The students got to keep half the proceeds from the sale of their goats, while the other half went into a fund to continue the program.

The project has had an impact on the high school’s campus life, Alves said. Special-education students felt separated from the rest of the school, “but not anymore,” she said.

One of the students didn’t want to make eye contact with people, but now he can, she said.

“I think it has more of an impact on these kids,” the mentors, Alves said. “They’re not even trained (as teachers). It’s very natural.”

The parents of the special-needs kids said the experience taught them responsibility and gave them more confidence. Angelique Gomez said he daughter, Yolanda, has learned respect for animals and how to work with others.

“It’s a good opportunity for the kids,” said Maria Rojo, whose daughter Alejandra participated in the program. “Alejandra is so happy. … This is the first time she could enter. She’s so happy and excited.”

Washington FFA adviser departing Tue, 16 May 2017 17:25:06 -0400 Matw Weaver Rebecca Wallace, Washington state FFA adviser for the past four years, has a new job.

She is the new executive director of career and technical education programs in the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

She will continue as FFA adviser until a replacement is named.

“My roots are in ag, I’m a product of FFA, I’m a product of ag education,” Wallace said. “I’ve really, truly enjoyed working with the teachers, directors and the students across the state to advance agricultural education.”

Wallace hopes to lead by example in her new position.

“If you have the ability to impact on a greater level, then you have the responsibility to do your best to try,” she said. “We’ve been able to do some great things in agriculture. I’ve certainly appreciated the support from the ag teachers and ag industry in general.”

Wallace believes FFA has begun strategic planning for the future of agricultural education in the next 10 to 15 years. She also pointed to FFA’s relationships with Washington State University and the industry.

“I’m really proud of the team we’ve built,” she said. “I’m proud of being able to bring to light some of the great things we already had been doing and growing and starting some new programs.”

Wallace has had an “unbelievable” and “immeasurable” impact for FFA, said Abbie DeMeerleer, executive director of the Washington FFA Association.

“She has been an tireless advocate,” DeMeerleer said. “She’s been innovative, creative and very supportive of new initiatives of diverse growth in our organization, helping us look and grow forward.”

Wallace said she plans to continue to support FFA in her new capacity.

Ag students shine at Oregon Envirothon Mon, 15 May 2017 10:15:18 -0400 Jan Jackson SILVERTON, Ore. — The 21st annual Oregon Envirothon, was May 5 at the Oregon Gardens in Silverton.

The five top winning teams were Logos Charter School, Medford; Newberg High School FFA; Amity High School; Sutherlin High School FFA Team 2; and Sutherlin High School Team A.

The Logos Charter School team will compete July 23-29 in the National Envirothon at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmetsburg, Md.

Newberg FFA, which placed second in the Envirothon and first in the FFA Division, will compete Oct. 25-28 during the 90th National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Ind.

Bailey Field, FFA adviser and ag teacher at Newberg, spoke with pride about her FFA members taking a first in the FFA Division and scoring the highest in the agriculture soil and water conservation stewardship event.

“This was my first year at Newberg, and fortunately I had the help of long time biology, ecology and horticulture instructor and Envirothon trainer Pete Siderius,” Fields said. “Newberg was represented by a five-member FFA and a five-member freshman team this year. It is always exciting to see them put in all that effort and see it rewarded.”

Students train and test throughout the school year to compete in four hands-on natural resource categories — aquatic ecology, soils and land use, forestry and wildlife and one current environmental issue, which this year was ag soil and water conservation stewardship.

Envirothon was started by the Pennsylvania Soil and Water Conservation District in 1979. Oregon’s first Envirothon was in 1997 with five teams; 32 teams competed this year.

In 2003, the Marion County SWCD partnered with the Oregon Forest Resources Institute and moved the competition to the Oregon Gardens. OFRI will direct future Envirothon competitions starting with the 2018 event.

OFRI Senior Manager of Education Julie Woodward said 200 high school students competed this year.

“It started out as a very wet day, but students kept positive attitudes and we saw some amazing results,” Woodward said. “The advisers and instructors put a lot of time and energy into preparing students for the event and the test writers and judges routinely comment on how amazed they are with the skills and expertise of the students.

“We are looking forward to Envirothon 2018.”


Washington FFA chooses new state officers Sun, 14 May 2017 16:11:12 -0400 Matw Weaver PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington FFA installed a new slate of officers to cap its annual gathering, which attracted 3,318 members and advisers.

The new officers will demonstrate the power of letting the student leadership organization truly be guided by students, the organization’s officials say.

New officers elected during the 87th Washington FFA Convention and Expo in Pullman, Wash., are president Seth Smith of Tonasket, vice president Mollee Gray of Medical Lake, secretary Taylor Enns of White River, treasurer Sydney Klaveano of Pullman, reporter Kelci Scharff of Cheney and sentinel Matt Rounsley of Tenino.

Smith said he hopes to talk about FFA’s possibilities for all students in the coming year.

“It’s really open for everybody,” he said.

Smith said he doesn’t have an agriculture background, but became involved in FFA through a novice parliamentary procedure leadership development event.

“It opened up all these doors and this new journey I’m on to learning about this industry,” he said. “I realized how passionate I was about it and how effective it was in our world.”

Smith hopes to attend law school and ultimately work in natural resources law or water rights law.

Outgoing president Alyssa McGee in her retiring address urged members not to get so distracted by their goals that they miss the beauty of living in the moment.

“Over the next few years, that (FFA) jacket will serve as a collection of both great moments as well as moments of struggle,” she said. “Hold on tightly to both.”

“I’m excited to hear from them what they envision Washington FFA to be in the next year,” Rebecca Wallace, Washington FFA state adviser, said of the new officers.

“I can’t wait to see what kind of expectations they set for themselves this year, and then surpass,” said Abbie DeMeerleer, Washington FFA Association executive director. “This is a dynamic new group of individuals, and I think they’re going to have some pretty innovative and exciting ideas for the association.”

DeMeerleer hopes the industry greets the new officers with open arms, to help them better understand the “ins and outs” of the industry and its trading partners.

“So that these six students, in all of their travels throughout the year, can best represent not only FFA, but Washington agriculture as a whole,” she said.

Fresno leaders make new offer to keep state FFA convention Tue, 9 May 2017 14:51:47 -0400 Tim Hearden FRESNO, Calif. — Local leaders have promised more facility space, closer involvement by agricultural leaders and perhaps farm tours as a way to entice the FFA’s annual state convention to stay in town.

City and California State University-Fresno leaders sent a new proposal to the youth organization last week that included use of the Big Fresno Fairgrounds and bus transportation for students to activities there, university president Joe Castro said.

“Then we would enhance our partnerships with the ag leaders in the area and get them more involved,” Castro told the Capital Press. “Many have stepped up to say they’d help out with mentors and offered field trips on their own farms and tours if they (the FFA) were to stay. There’s a lot of support here for it.”

The local leaders’ overtures come as the California FFA is apparently close to an agreement with the Anaheim Convention Center to host the organization’s leadership conference in 2018 and 2019.

Josiah Mayfield, the FFA’s assistant state adviser, has declined to comment about talks he’s had with Fresno officials since the organization announced its plans to cut ties with the Selland Arena and its adjacent convention center. Fresno has hosted the FFA’s gathering for 24 years.

Mayfield argues that the organization’s growth is forcing it to move the convention, noting the gathering’s attendance has grown from about 1,000 to more than 6,000 students a year. Members are scattered at various hotels in downtown Fresno, prompting state advisers to search for larger venues with more concentrated lodging.

“Clearly Anaheim has an advantage in terms of hotel rooms in closer proximity to one another,” Castro conceded. “We’d have a number of different hotels in the Fresno-Clovis area to support that large number, but I would say that our location is far more strategically important to them.

“Almost half of the students in FFA come from the Central Valley, and it’s much more convenient for them,” he said.

The annual convention is a big event for Fresno State, which provides roughly 200 students and faculty members to help put it on. On the Sunday of each convention, members are bused over to the university for educational workshops and judging contests.

“In addition to the 200, there are literally many hundreds of people who are helping to make sure this whole program goes smoothly,” Castro said. “That would have to be re-created elsewhere. Our folks would not be in the position of going to Anaheim.”

Castro and Fresno Mayor Lee Brand have tried to rally local agricultural leaders to urge the FFA to stay, and the offers of farm tours and more mentors are a result of the outreach, Castro said.

Use of the fairgrounds would add about 89,000 square feet of activity space to the roughly 125,000 available at the Selland Arena and convention center, he said.

Castro has proposed using the 14-year-old SaveMart Center with its roughly 16,000 seats rather than the 51-year-old Selland Arena, which seats 7,200. But he said he understands the FFA likes Selland’s proximity to the DoubleTree Hotel, which is the main hotel the convention uses.

The conference is now slated to alternate between Anaheim and Sacramento every two years. Mayfield has said he expects an agreement with Anaheim to be finalized soon.

On the subject of volunteers, Mayfield has said he’ll try to engage all of the state’s major agricultural colleges — Fresno State, California Polytechnic University-San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly-Pomona, CSU-Chico and the University of California-Davis — to help out.

Meridian FFA members find success at leadership conference Thu, 4 May 2017 15:36:37 -0400 Loretta Lacy2016-2017 Meridian FFA Reporter On April 5, 53 Meridian FFA members and 13 advisors traveled to Twin Falls, Idaho to attend the Idaho State Leadership Conference (SLC) held on the College of Southern Idaho campus.

This conference is held annually and lasted four days, from April 5 to 8. During SLC, members from chapters all over the state compete in Career Development Events (CDEs), interview for Proficiency Awards and National Chapter Awards, attend many workshops and sessions, and listen to the state officers give their retiring addresses.

On April 5, Meridian members woke up early to participate in the Dairy and Livestock Judging Invitational contests. These contests are invitational and are considered practice, as they are not state qualifiers. The following members participated in Dairy Judging:

• Emma Sells (8th place individual) (RMHS)

• Cody Duff (RMHS)

• Hunter Patterson (RMHS)

• Dylan Peterson (RMHS)

• Kaden McCarney (MHS)

• Cameron King (MVHS)

The following members participated in Livestock Judging:

• Emma Sells (RMHS)

• Cody Duff (RMHS)

• Hunter Patterson (RMHS)

• Dylan Peterson (RMHS)

• Joe Wieting (MHS)

• Kaden McCarney (MHS)

• Trace Beaucannon (RMHS)

• Cameron King (MVHS)

On the evening of April 5, the Floriculture CDE was held in the Evergreen Building on the College of Southern Idaho Campus. Meridian FFA Floriculture team placed 8th in the state. The following members participated in this CDE:

• Lauren Barker (EHS)

• Caitlin Martin (EHS)

• Jordan Bettencourt (EHS)

• Kayla Schubert (EHS)

On April 6, four Meridian members participated in Proficiency interviews and two Meridian members attended the National Chapter Interview. To apply for a State Proficiency, members must have a strong Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE), submit a quality application, and complete an interview. Members that win the Proficiency in their designated area then are able to compete at the regional level. The following members applied for a State Proficiency award:

• Caitlin Martin (Entrepreneurship – Small Animal; Gold ranking; 1st place) (EHS)

• Lauren Barker (Entrepreneurship – Equine; Gold ranking; 1st place) (EHS)

• Alexa Phillips (Placement—Small Animal) (MVHS)

• Loretta Lacy (Entrepreneurship—Equine) (CHS)

“Winning a Proficiency award for my horse project was amazing,” said Lauren Barker. “It helped me realize how important all of my record-keeping was. I have never gone through an interview before so the whole process was a really fun learning experience!”

The chapter president and vice president from each chapter will fill out an application very similar to the proficiency application, but will cover various chapter events held throughout the year. Two Meridian members, Loretta Lacy (Reporter) and Kyle Schmit (President), participated in the National Chapter interview and Meridian placed 9th with a Gold ranking. The National Chapter application will be sent to Nationals to be reviewed and scored again.

Also on April 6, Taylor Nelson (Idaho State Reporter) gave her retiring address entitled “Be a Friend.” At the end of her address, Loretta Lacy and Kyle Schmit accepted it and congratulated Taylor on a job well done over the past year. Spread throughout the six sessions, each State Officer presented a motivational and influential speech as a closing to their time of serving Idaho FFA as a state officer.

Members got the chance to participate in the Idaho State Parliamentary Procedure Exam. This examination covers basic to advanced Parliamentary Procedure rules. The member with the highest score is awarded the title of Conference Parliamentarian. Meridian FFA had eight members participate in this exam. The members are as follows:

• Ashton Shaul (1st high individual; Conference Parliamentarian) (MHS)

• Hayley Bowring (8th high individual) (MVHS)

• Sarah Miraya (9th high individual) (MVHS)

• Courtney Marshall (EHS)

• Rose Frazee (MVHS)

• Sydney Plum (MHS)

• Jonathan Muniz (MVHS)

• Madison Belanger (MVHS)

During the 4th general session on April 7, six Meridian members were awarded their state degrees. These degrees are displayed as gold emblems attached to gold chains that are hung off of the inside of your jacket. This degree is the highest degree that a high school member can achieve. Congratulations to these six members for their great achievement. The following members received their state degrees:

• Joseph Wieting (MHS)

• Lauren Barker (EHS)

• Mollie Hiscox (MVHS)

• Ashton Shaul (MHS)

• Kaitlin Muniz (MVHS)

• Ellie Higgins (MHS)

Besides the sessions and interviews, CDEs were also held on Thursday. Meridian members participated in Horse Judging, Farm Business Management, Job Interview, and Scrapbook Judging throughout the day. Horse Judging is a CDE in which a team of four members will judge, score, and present oral reasons on classes of horses. These classes can range from judging how a horse is built to judging how a horse moves and listens to its rider. Meridian placed 3rd in the State. The following members who participated in Horse Judging are as follows:

• Rachel Mansfield (3rd place individual) (MVHS)

• Michael Person (CHS)

• Ashlyn Schiers (MHS)

• Emma Carley (BKHS)

“I have been competing in horse judging through various organizations throughout the past five years,” said Rachel Mansfield. “I’ve always enjoyed the contest as a whole and giving oral reasons has really amplified my public speaking skills. Horse judging is a very subjective competition, so it’s a challenge to not let your personal opinions interfere with how you judge certain classes. I enjoy the challenge of not really knowing what to expect and the pressure of having to develop a set of oral reasons in a very limited amount of time.”

The Farm Business Management CDE consists of four team members who will each take a test over practical math used commonly on a ranch or farm. Meridian placed 3rd at SLC. The following members who participated in Farm Business Management are as follows:

• Isaac Livesay (6th place individual) (MHS)

• Lyric Snurkowski (MHS)

• Kiara Wetzel (MVHS)

• Kobe Manzer (MHS)

“I love Farm Business Management because it was something I tried on a whim and I ended up becoming passionate about it,” said Lyric Snurkowski. “Not to mention it shows me that not all math sucks.”

Mallie Miller placed 1st in the state for Job Interview CDE and she will be representing Meridian FFA and Idaho FFA at National Convention this fall. This CDE consists of the member creating a strong resume and cover letter, undergoing an interview, and then completing up with a follow-up letter.

“I enjoy the Job Interview CDE because it is an independent competition,” said Mallie Miller. “I would recommend doing this CDE to every FFA member because it really prepares you for real life.”

Scrapbook Judging is an event where most Idaho FFA chapters submit their yearbooks or scrapbooks for judging. The Meridian FFA yearbook covers all of the major events from the past year and the articles that cover them; there are also a few “fun pages” that consist of “Senior Best” and some of our members’ interesting SAE projects. Meridian’s yearbook placed 2nd at the state level in our division. The following members created the 2016-2017 Yearbook:

• Ellie Higgins (Yearbook Chief) (MHS)

• Kiara Wetzel (Yearbook Staff) (MVHS)

• Sydney Plum (Yearbook Staff) (MHS)

On Friday April 7, the Nursery Landscape CDE was held in the CSI Greenhouse. Meridian FFA placed 5th in the state. The following members participated in this CDE:

• Mollie Hiscox (3rd place individual) (MVHS)

• Hailey Buffham (10th place individual) (MVHS)

• Cameron King (MVHS)

• Kaitlin Muniz (MVHS)

“I enjoy Nursery Landscape because it’s very hands-on and challenging,” said Mollie Hiscox. “I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fun and useful CDE to participate in.”

The Days of Service event was held Friday afternoon as a way for FFA members to give back to the Twin Falls community. Members got the chance to choose from three activities: teaching about agriculture to children, volunteering at a thrift shop, or participating in a community service scavenger hunt.

Throughout the week, three Meridian members, Mallie Miller (MHS), Maddie Bennett (University of Idaho), and Alexa Phillips (MVHS), underwent vigorous interviews, extemporaneous speeches, and various tests as a part of the Idaho FFA State Officer sifting process. Every year at the State Leadership Conference, the past year’s state officers retire and the new officers are introduced.

“State officer sifting was an amazing experience because, not only did I get the chance to meet other members who were passionate and dedicated, but it will also prepare me for future interviews,” said Alexa Phillips.

Also going on during the week, Trinity Martin (MHS) and Cody Duff (RMHS) represented Meridian FFA as delegates. Both members attended many sessions to debate and vote on new rules and changes to Idaho FFA.

Meridian FFA would like to thank the College of Southern Idaho for hosting this event every year. We would also like to thank the Meridian Alumni chapter for lowering the cost of attendance for Meridian members. Meridian FFA would like to thank Mr. Alan Heikkila for driving the chapter from Meridian to Twin Falls. Thank you to all of the sponsors that made this year’s Idaho SLC possible: J.R. Simplot Co., D.L. Evans Bank, Wells Fargo, Lithia of Twin Falls, D&B Supply, Standard Dairy Consultants, Crop Production Services, Agri-Service, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Falls Brand, Idaho AgCredit, Tesoro Logistics, KeyAg, Pacific Northwest Farmers’ Cooperative, Idaho Farm Bureau, and Standlee Hay.

Good luck to Mallie Miller with Job Interview at National Convention, and best of luck to our proficiency winners Lauren Barker and Caitlin Martin in the next round of proficiency judging.

Chelan FFA heads to state conference Thu, 4 May 2017 16:01:18 -0400 Chelan, Wash., FFA members traveled east to Spokane to compete in the Washington State FFA Livestock Career Development Event and the last Meats Evaluation CDE before State next week.

Eleven members made the trip and competed well at the events held on Wednesday May 3 in conjunction with the Spokane Junior Livestock Show.

The Livestock CDE Team of Stephanie Olivera, Jessie Oules, Owen Oules, Aislinn Davis, Kenny Reeves and Ashley Sams had to complete a wide variety of the assessments on their way to an 8th place plaque and a trip on stage at State Convention next week.

They had to complete a 25 question objective test on the livestock industry, then complete a team activity on Genetics where using Bull performance data and estimated progeny differences (EPDs) analysis they had to select bulls for different operational scenarios around the state.

The team activity also included a video marketing scenario where they are given a number of lots of calves from a recent video auction catalog. Then based on a scenario and location, they have to select the best lot of calves based on transportation cost, calf breeding, size of loads, backgrounding, and vaccination history.

The final part of the team activity was to choose which four ewes out of eight to keep and which four to cull based on live evaluation and performance data. Then each individual evaluated 2 classes of beef, 2 classes of swine, 2 classes of sheep, and 1 class of meat goats. Then after the placing classes were complete they gave a set of oral reasons on beef replacement heifers, market hogs, and market lambs.

When it was all said and done they had judged and talked their way on stage with an 8th place finish for the second year in a row.

The meats team finished their last warm up of the year with a 9th place finish. The team of Obed Diaz, Max Nims, Richard Heimark, Henry Armstrong, and Carlos Vargas did well identifying meat cuts, quality and yield grading, placing retail and primal cuts, and completing a ground meat formulation problem. This young team has been working to prepare for a run at State FFA Meats CDE in Pullman with the 87th Washington State Convention.

Fresno makes last-ditch push to keep state FFA meet Tue, 2 May 2017 15:38:28 -0400 Tim Hearden FRESNO, Calif. — City and California State University-Fresno leaders are making a last-ditch attempt to keep the FFA’s annual state convention from leaving town.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand and Fresno State President Joe Castro told a local radio station last week they were taken by surprise by the California FFA’s decision to move its conference to Anaheim next year.

The two met with FFA representatives April 26 and floated several alternatives, including moving the conference’s main sessions from Selland Arena to the larger and newer SaveMart Center on the Fresno State campus.

“It was a very productive conversation,” city communications director Mark Standriff told the Capital Press. “We were relieved to know their final contract with Anaheim apparently hasn’t been signed yet.”

Brand and Castro have also tried to rally local agricultural leaders to urge the FFA to stay. Ryan Jacobsen, executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said he was contacted by the mayor’s office and wants to be involved in any future talks aimed at keeping the convention in town.

“Obviously this convention has been very special to Fresno,” Jacobsen said. “Fresno has definitely enjoyed the opportunity to act as host for so long. I don’t think it’s an accident that the number of attendees dramatically increased in Fresno. … We have so many agricultural amenities that have helped make the convention a success.”

Josiah Mayfield, the FFA’s assistant state adviser, declined to comment about Fresno’s latest overtures.

He said last week that the organization’s growth had prompted the FFA to cut ties with Fresno’s Selland Arena and adjacent convention center after moving its state convention there from San Luis Obispo in 1994.

The convention had roughly 1,000 attendees when it moved, and now more than 6,000 of the state’s 79,500 FFA members attend the gathering. Members are scattered at various hotels in downtown Fresno, prompting state advisers to search for larger venues with more concentrated lodging.

The conference is now slated to alternate between Anaheim and Sacramento, with the Anaheim Convention Center the site of the 2018 and 2019 gatherings. Mayfield said last week he expected an agreement with Anaheim to be finalized within the next couple of weeks.

“We’re excited for what it’s going to offer our students in terms of opportunities for growth,” he said.

But Fresno leaders argue the conference’s attendance could suffer as it moves from the heart of California agriculture to Anaheim, where travel and hotel room rates could be more expensive.

They note that 144 of the state’s 317 high school FFA chapters are in the San Joaquin Valley, including some of the largest chapters in terms of membership.

“One of the other challenges that Anaheim is going to have is providing volunteers,” Standriff said. “We’re just a natural resource for people who are already in the agriculture industry and FFA alumni who look forward every year to coming to Fresno.

“Traveling to a location like Anaheim or even Sacramento is not something that is necessarily going to be in their plans, whereas we can naturally have a volunteer base that we’ve built up over the last 24 years,” he said.

The Fresno conferences have also received considerable help from Fresno State, which hosts an afternoon of workshops and has its students handle everything at the conference from set-up to publicity.

Castro has proposed using the 14-year-old SaveMart Center with its roughly 16,000 seats rather than the 51-year-old Selland Arena, which seats 7,200. But lodging near the university would still be scattered, officials concede.

On the subject of volunteers, Mayfield has said he’ll try to engage all of the state’s major agricultural colleges — Fresno State, California Polytechnic University-San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly-Pomona, CSU-Chico and the University of California-Davis — to help out.

Ag Fest sets record, honors ag education award winners Tue, 2 May 2017 13:46:25 -0400 Jan Jackson SALEM, Ore. — A record–breaking crowd attended the 30th annual Ag Fest April 29-30 at the Oregon State Fairgrounds.

Tami Kerr, executive director of Oregon Dairy Farmers Association and 2017 Ag Fest chair, was enthusiastic about the record-breaking results of this year’s event.

“It was a record-breaking year in every way,” Kerr said. “The trade show filled faster this year than ever before, we had more local food producers selling cheese, salsa, pies and meat ... new cooking demonstrations from Bob’s Red Mill and there were more hands-on experiences than ever in both Ag Country and the animal barns.”

When she first joined the board 17 years ago, the even drew 7,000 and 8,000 attendees.

“This year,” Kerr said, “we nearly hit 22,000 — 21,964 to be exact. No other state that I know of has a premier agriculture education event that matches this one, and it is a thrill to see entire families learning together about where their food comes from.”

Part of the event was the presentation of the Oregon Ag Fest Agricultural Education Awards. Top award winners were members of the Echo, Ore., FFA, the Henley FFA near Klamath Falls and the Oregon Dairy Women.

To extend their mission beyond the annual two-day event, Ag Fest organizers decided to award student organizations, nonprofit groups and others who promote agriculture and educate Oregonians about it.

Echo FFA members — Echo is a small town 8 miles south of Hermiston in Eastern Oregon — took home the first place prize of $1,000 for their 2,333 “agricultural learning moments” they advocated between January 2016 and March 2017.

Those projects included presenting Ag in the Classroom lessons to elementary classrooms in the Echo School District, hosting a petting zoo for elementary- through high school-age students, teaching a lesson at Rocky Heights Elementary School in Hermiston and taking part in work stations at the Eastern Oregon Agriculture Field Day at the Sustainable Agriculture and Energy Center in Boardman.

The 10 Echo FFA members who attended Ag Fest to accept their award also spent the morning assisting with pedal tractor races, parking cars and the Ag Challenge scavenger hunt.

Henley FFA took home the second place prize of $600 for working with the local Klamath Falls Farm Expo, hosting an Ag Field Day for students at a local elementary school, participating in the Oregon Ag in the Classroom Spring Literacy Project, as well as other community service efforts that included working with PLAY — Promoting Lifelong Activities for Youth — and the Klamath County Forestry Tour.

Accepting the $400 prize for third place was 2017 State Dairy Princess Ambassador Kiara Single and Jessica Kliewer, state director of the Dairy Princess Ambassador Program for the Oregon Dairy Women. Since 1959, the volunteer organization has been telling dairy’s story to the public through the princess ambassador program and other efforts.

Florida teacher accused of calling ag students ‘murderers’ Thu, 27 Apr 2017 10:20:06 -0400

OCALA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida teacher stands to lose his job after school officials said he bullied and harassed Future Farmers of America students who are raising livestock to be sold for slaughter.

Middle school teacher Thomas Roger Allison Jr., 53, has been placed on unpaid leave from Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks near Ocala for calling the students who are raising livestock “murderers,” according to a Marion County school district letter documenting the case.

In a written recommendation for termination, Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier said that Allison “has engaged in a repeated, egregious pattern of mistreating, ridiculing, insulting, intimidating, embarrassing bullying and abusing FFA students, crushing their dreams and causing them to feel that they must discontinue FFA activities to enjoy a peaceful school environment.”

The Ocala Star-Banner ( ) reports Allison is also accused of harassing the group’s teacher adviser and encouraging his honors science students to harass FAA members.

A district investigation revealed that Allison is on a quest to end the animal agriculture program because of his animal rights beliefs. Maier said he’s also made it harder for FFA students to get good grades in his science class.

Allison told investigators he won’t stop speaking out on animal slaughter, and said he is innocent. He is on unpaid leave pending a hearing before the school board.

“I love working in Marion County and love my students,” he said. “I will fight for my job.”

Allison was named as one of the five finalist for 2016 Golden Apple teacher of the year honors.

Maier ordered the investigation on March 28. It looked into dozens of accusations from teachers, students and parents. The investigation lasted 10 days and resulted in a scathing report.

Allison told students that he was obtaining his certification in agriculture so that he could take the agriculture teacher’s job and stop animal projects, the report states. “This has upset and confused the FFA students, who do not want their academics to suffer because of their involvement with animal projects.”

One agriculture student told investigators that Allison makes her feel like she is doing something wrong.

According to the report, even after Allison was made aware of the investigation, he continued “addressing students antagonistically and cruelly, thus failing in his obligation not to harass or discriminate against any student.”

California’s new FFA officers embrace growth Tue, 25 Apr 2017 18:21:03 -0400 Tim Hearden FRESNO, Calif. — California FFA’s newly elected state officer team pondered a future of growth and opportunity as the organization bid farewell to its 24-year state conference home.

Luke O’Leary of San Luis Obispo, the 2017-18 state president, said he wants to focus the coming year on increasing diversity within the FFA while maintaining unity.

“We have a lot of challenges,” O’Leary told the Capital Press. “With just the size of the association, we have to find a way to serve everyone.”

The organization’s growth is why the FFA is cutting ties with Fresno’s Selland Arena and adjacent convention center after moving its state convention there from San Luis Obispo in the early 1990s.

The convention had roughly 1,000 attendees when it moved, and now nearly 6,000 of the state’s 79,500 FFA members attend the gathering. Members are scattered at various hotels in downtown Fresno, prompting state advisers to search for larger venues with more concentrated lodging.

The conference will now alternate between Anaheim and Sacramento, with the Anaheim Convention Center the site of the 2018 and 2019 gatherings, assistant state adviser Josiah Mayfield said.

“We’re excited for what it’s going to offer our students in terms of opportunities for growth,” Mayfield said.

The convention will have to do without as much help from California State University-Fresno, which hosts an afternoon of workshops and has its students handle everything at the conference from set-up to publicity.

Mayfield said he’ll try to engage all of the state’s major agriculture colleges — Fresno State, California Polytechnic University-San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly-Pomona, CSU-Chico and the University of California-Davis — to help out.

“We’re grateful for everything that Fresno State has done for us,” he said.

The change of venue will be a key order of business for the leadership team headed by O’Leary, 19, a freshman at Texas A&M University who’s taking a year off college to handle his FFA duties. O’Leary is among the 3 percent of California FFA members who are already high school graduates.

He is joined on the 2017-18 state officers’ team by Vice President Jasmine Flores of Atwater, Secretary Genevieve Regli of Ferndale, Treasurer Armando Nevarez of Holtville, Reporter Hunter Andrade of Tracy and Sentinel Robert Marchy of Turlock.

The new officers were announced after each of the outgoing state officers had taken turns over the course of the April 20-25 conference in giving heartfelt speeches about their time in office. Each also had their parents and advisers on stage to thank them in moving tributes.

Outgoing President Andrew Skidmore of Atwater themed his speech on integrity and respect. He apologized for using an off-color word to describe himself during candidates’ speeches last year, and said the controversy taught him to value the respect of others.

“We need to hold ourselves accountable for our decisions,” Skidmore said. “Respect is the communication of values to others. … No acts of greatness have ever been achieved by people who do not care.”

Skidmore and his sister, Secretary Amanda Skidmore, were the first-ever twins to serve together at the state level. They and their fellow 2016-17 state officers — Vice President Lauren Milang of Woodland, Treasurer Sam Looper of Apple Valley, Reporter Conner Vernon of Nipomo and Sentinel Jace Neugebauer of McArthur — ceremonially retired their trusty blue-and-gold jackets amid wild cheers and tearful embraces.

In her farewell speech, Milang told of a moment that a butterfly landed on her shoulder and she thought later it was a divine message, as soon afterward she learned her best friend had passed away.

“Remember that there’s beauty in change,” she said. “You just have to find it.”

California has 317 high school FFA chapters and more than 760 FFA advisers and agriculture teachers.

FFA students hone skills in science competition Tue, 25 Apr 2017 09:17:02 -0400 Tim Hearden FRESNO, Calif. — For Kaitlyn McFarland, the agriscience fair at the annual California FFA conference didn’t really feel like a competition.

“You’re more developing skills related to the scientific process and properly writing a research paper,” said McFarland, an Exeter, Calif., student whose project was to test organic antiseptics on livestock bacteria.

Her classmates, Mia McCormick and Kaylee Raubaugh, studied pH measurement in egg wash for small farms. McCormick said her effort will be useful on her family’s farm.

“We want to make sure we’re washing the eggs safely,” she said.

But while the students were just trying to hone their skills, they proved adept at competing, too. They and their teammates from Exeter FFA took the top cooperative award as well as several individual honors.

More than 100 students enter projects in the science contests each year, competing at several skill levels in categories for animal science, environmental sciences, food products and processing systems, plant systems, power, structural and technical systems, and social systems.

The students presented their work to panels of judges and answered questions. Entries were judged on April 23, and other attendees were allowed to browse through the rows of project displays on April 24 before several dozen plaques and ribbons were handed out later that afternoon.

FFA member Preslie Hewitt, a sophomore from East Nicolaus, Calif., looked through the displays and jotted down notes to report to her adviser what she’s learned.

“It’s hard work I’ll bet,” Hewitt said of the projects. “It’s very cool to see what the other chapters and schools have to offer.”

Topics covered in the displays read like scholarly journal articles. Among the entries, students tested the effect of solar panel cellular waste on plant growth, compared erosion control methods, measured residual saline from drip irrigation systems and studied the British thermal units generated from eucalyptus burning.

Past projects by students have included how well different feed additives worked on hogs and genetic research on different varieties of animals, said Josiah Mayfield, the assistant state FFA adviser.

“We’re fairly competitive at the national level,” Mayfield said. “All of these state winners have a chance to submit (their projects) for the national competition.”

As science and technology are seen as key fields in guiding the future of agriculture, many chapters encourage their members to do projects, Mayfield said.

“It’s definitely an area that we have teachers who focus on, and they’re pretty competitive in it,” he said.

FFA members engage youngsters to boost ag literacy Mon, 10 Apr 2017 15:17:49 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Photosynthesis, pollination, seed dispersal — might seem like pretty heady topics for kindergarten and first-grade students, but it’s never too early to start learning about the workings and importance of agriculture.

In fact, the earlier the better, according to Idaho FFA members involved in an ag literacy event at Boys and Girls Club on Friday.

The Idaho FFA State Leadership Conference was winding its way to Saturday’s climax when hundreds of FFA members swapped their formal attire for blue T-shirts and jeans and spread out across Twin Falls for some 30 service events to thank the community for hosting the conference.

A few chapters chose to educate children on agronomy, forestry, livestock production and career opportunities in agriculture, and Boys and Girls Club was a perfect, if noisy, venue.

Ag literacy and knowing where food comes from is really important, said Shawna Siver, an FFA member from Bonners Ferry.

There’s only so much space in the world to grow food, and people need to know it’s important to develop and manage that, she said.

Having knowledge about agriculture and where their food comes from will hopefully foster support for agriculture, said fellow chapter member Mary Fioravanti.

“Maybe one day when their older, they’ll want to be a part of that, too,” said Bailey Myers.

But they don’t necessarily have to be a farmer to support agriculture and future food production, said Brittany Spangler.

“I think it’s really important to do these fun activities to spark an interest so they remember it,” she said.

Teaching the future generation so youngsters have a general understanding that ag is an aspect of every part of their life is critical to keeping ag viable, she said.

The Bonners Ferry members gave about 90 youngsters an agronomy lesson — compliments of Dr. Seuss Books and the Cat in the Hat — explaining everything involved in growing food from seed, answering questions and helping the children plant seeds in cups bound for their own windowsills or gardens.

In another room, FFA members from Salmon were helping youngsters construct eggs from Play-Doh, explaining each part of the egg and its function and how eggs are produced.

Katie Cooper, ag education instructor and Salmon FFA adviser, said hands-on activities are a good learning tool for young students and eggs are a food they’re familiar with.

Ag literacy events are meant to help youngsters understand where their food comes from to help urban communities understand why it’s important to support agriculture, she said.

Ag literacy programs help expose children to agriculture and FFA, and it’s really fun to teach kids about both, said Hunter Davis of Highland-Craigmont FFA.

As long as they’re having fun and learning a little, the event is hitting the mark, he said.

Boys and Girls Club Program Director Garren Moreno welcomed FFA and the ag literacy event, saying the Club embraces educational partnerships.

Boys and Girls Club is not just a place for children to hang out and it’s definitely not a babysitting service. It’s a youth-development and mentoring program providing a safe place for youngsters to learn and grow, he said.

Kuna FFA chapter does well at state leadership conference Mon, 10 Apr 2017 14:48:25 -0400 Savannah StroebelKuna, Idaho, FFA Reporter This year at the annual Idaho FFA State Leadership Conference held at the College of Southern Idaho campus in Twin Falls, the Kuna FFA Chapter climbed to mountains of success.

It is a great honor to be recognized at the state level for achievements and hard work. This year, senior member Taylor Stephenson was elected to serve as the 2017-2018 Idaho FFA State Reporter. Only 6 students in the entire state are selected to serve the 4,500 FFA members of the state of Idaho. In addition to Taylor’s great success, 61 Kuna students proudly represented the Kuna FFA Chapter through competitions, interviews, awards and scholarships.

Leadership and Career Development Events are competitions that teach students to think critically, communicate clearly and perform effectively in a competitive job market. These contests focus on demonstrating their abilities in public speaking, decision making and knowledge of agriculture.

• Danny Schiffer: 10th High Individual in the Dairy Cattle Judging Invitational.

• 4th Place Floriculture team consisting of Hailey King, Wyatt Bell, Ty Noble and Jeni Ball.

• 1st place Conduct of Meetings Team consisting of Abby Johnson, Olivia Border, Taylor Dixon, Carter Moore, Katelyn Whittaker, Faith Vander Woude and Emily Blattner. They will go on to represent Idaho at the National Contest this fall in Indianapolis.

• 1st place Parliamentary Procedure Team consisting of Savannah Stroebel, Shyla Flavel, Katie Hettinga, Emberly Stroebel, Jeni Ball and Mason Roberts. Each team member received a $500 scholarship to attend the University of Idaho. They will go on to compete at the national level this fall in Indianapolis.

• Top 5 Parliamentarian Exam Brady Robinson and Ethan Weaver.

• 1st place Chapter Scrapbook CDE made by Jeni Ball and Luci Ashley.

• 2nd place Farm Business Management team consisting of Samuel Simper who placed first high individual, Ashton Christensen who placed 8th high individual, Ethan Weaver and Nick Brodin.

• 5th place Horse Judging Team consisting of Kailey Ludwig placing 10th high individual, Grace Wigger placing 5th high individual, Page Kretzschmar and Kayla Olson.

• 11th place Landscape/Nursery team consisting of Danny Schiffer, Hannah Berger and Makenzie Corona.

• 2nd place Agriscience Fair Project by Brady Robinson and Grace Berheim.

• Gold Ranking and 5th place National Chapter Award by JoAn Arnold and Savannah Stroebel.

• Ross Blattner won 4th place in the Prepared Speaking Contest.

• Katie Hettinga won 3rd place in the Extemporaneous Speaking Contest.

• Emily Blattner won 6th place in the Creed Speaking Contest.

• Idaho FFA State Star Farmer went to Ross Blattner.

Proficiency Awards honor members who, through their SAEs, have developed specialized skills that they can apply towards future careers.

•Ross Blattner won 1st place in Sheep Production Proficiency.

•Ty Noble won 1st place in Forage Crop Production Proficiency.

• Wyatt Bell won 1st place in the Ag Mechanics Proficiency.

•Ethan Weaver won 2nd place in the Small Animal Proficiency.

The State Degree Award is the highest award a member may apply for given by the state of Idaho. This year there were 254 out of 4,500 FFA members who received their State Degree, 12 of them were from the Kuna FFA Chapter. These students took a FFA knowledge test, parliamentary procedure test, and were interviewed based on their SAE projects.

• Luci Ashley.

• Jeni Ball.

• Ross Blattner.

• Nick Brodin.

• Jacob Fisher.

• Madeleine Fleming.

• Tahya Hughes.

• Naomi Kallmeyer.

• Talya Kessinger.

• Kailey Ludwig.

• Savannah Stroebel.

• Grace Wigger.

Scholarships by the Idaho FFA Foundation are a high honor to receive. All of the selected winners sent in applications and were judged on their SAE projects, character, grades and leadership abilities. The following students were selected to win scholarships:

• Savannah Stroebel: Sara Braasch Schmidt Washington Leadership Conference Scholarship.

• Ross Blattner: Idaho Grower Shipper Association Scholarship.

• Mason Roberts: Betaseed Scholarship and University of Idaho Kindschy-Lawrence Scholarship.

• Shyla Flavel: Idaho FFA Foundation Tractor Raffle Scholarship.

• Annie Bass: University of Idaho John & Marty Mundt Agricultural Education Scholarship.

Idaho FFA officers ready to meet new challenges Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:05:35 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Idaho’s new state FFA officers aren’t exactly sure what’s in store in the coming year, but they’re excited about the proposition of serving the organization.

On Saturday — newly elected and all smiles after a week of State Leadership Conference frenzy — they first wanted to eat, sleep and share their excitement with family and friends.

Lindsey Stowell, 17, from Vallivue, said becoming state president “feels amazing.”

“I’m super excited and extremely humbled they (members) gave me the opportunity to serve,” she said. FFA is an ag-based youth-leadership organization that gives members an opportunity to serve their community and helps them prepare for the future. While the leadership aspect is important, it’s also important to remember FFA’s roots run deep in agriculture, she said.

“As a team, I hope we reach out to as many chapters as possible and branch out from ag classes and visit more core classes,” she said.

She plans to study dairy science and nutrition at the University of Idaho and eventually run her own dairy.

“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster,” said Austen Thomason of Weiser, 18, the new state treasurer.

The interview process was long but a great experience. The candidates were the best of the best, and any one of them could have been chosen, he said.

“I’m really grateful. It really hasn’t set in fully yet, but it was an amazing experience and it’s going to be a great year with a great team. I’m really looking forward to what it has in store for us,” he said.

His main mission is to make sure FFA members and guests feel welcome — and to move the organization forward, he said.

He plans to major in agribusiness and minor in political science at the University of Idaho.

State Secretary Sydney Anderson, 17, of Nampa said being a state officer is surreal. She was feeling a rush of emotions and not sure just yet what to expect next.

Her mission, however, is to use her experience to help members rise to their potential, to shoot for more than they think they can achieve and be successful, she said.

She plans to study equine science or agribusiness at the College of Southern Idaho.

State Reporter Taylor Stephenson, 17, of Kuna said she was a little in shock but being with the other new officers was bringing reality closer.

“I just gained a whole new family, so it’s starting to sink it,” she said.

The officers’ mission will be pushing members to think outside the box, past what they think are their limits to find themselves along the way, she said.

“I’m excited to serve Idaho FFA; it’s going to be awesome,” she said.

She plans to pursue animal and veterinary science at the University of Idaho.

State Sentinel Peter Towne, 18, from Kendrick said he was wiped out Saturday morning but the adrenalin kicked in with the new officer announcement. The interview process was mayhem but fun at the same time, he said.

“It’s been crazy, it’s been life-changing,” he said.

While he was still somewhat in disbelief, he said his goal will be to make sure everyone knows there’s a place to go and opportunity to grow in FFA and agriculture, he said.

He plans to pursue ag education at the University of Idaho.

“It’s the best way for me to be involved in FFA the rest of my life. FFA is a family; I just want to be involved with my FFA family forever,” he said.

State Vice President Randy Clements, 16, of Clark County said the election process was interesting with unexpected aspects. He became good friends with all the candidates and it was hard to see most get cut in the process, he said.

His goal is to interact with members and help them grow, as well as raising interest in ag education and FFA, he said.

He plans to major in ag education at the University of Idaho.

“I want to be able to help students get involved in the organization I love and also be able to teach students about the industry I love,” he said.

All of the new officers will graduate from high school in May — including Clements, who will graduate a year early.