Capital Press | FFA Capital Press Wed, 25 Apr 2018 11:00:20 -0400 en Capital Press | FFA New Idaho FFA state officers ready to serve Mon, 9 Apr 2018 15:45:28 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Running on empty at the close of the annual Idaho State Leadership Conference, newly elected state officers were nonetheless thrilled with their new roles and excited for the year ahead.

“I’m honestly in shock. I don’t believe I’m worthy of this almost,” President Saydee Longhurst said.

A senior at Shelly High School, Longhurst has served as FFA chapter and district president. She plans to attend Utah State University to major in agribusiness and hopes to one day take over her parents’ first-generation family farm.

Her goal in the coming year is to visit all the FFA chapters in the state to “support the wonderful members FFA has to offer,” she said.

She also hopes to grow personally, saying she’s already grown so much through the state candidate process.

Vice President Harrison Jansen van Beek said he’s a little worn out, but overall excited and “super happy.”

“I couldn’t ask for anything better. It’s going to be an amazing year,” he said.

A senior at Middleton High School, he has served as chapter president and district vice president. He plans to attend the University of Idaho in agribusiness and plans to either teach or enter the financial industry to promote and protect agriculture.

His goal in the year ahead is to speak to FFA members who might not necessarily know where their place is in agriculture and help them figure out what FFA can provide, he said.

“I hope to meet as many members as possible and enjoy every moment of this experience that has been provided to me,” he said.

Secretary Allyson King said she’s “excited, overwhelmed and really looking forward” to the year ahead.

The new officer team is already united, and she hopes to gain experience and spur members’ passion for agriculture and FFA and carry on the good name of Idaho FFA, she said.

She is a senior at Filer High School and has served as chapter and district president.

She plans to pursue agribusiness management, starting at the College of Southern Idaho and moving on to a larger college. She hopes to eventually own a local business related to agriculture, such as a floral or ice cream shop.

Treasurer Melanie Searle said being elected to state office is “just unreal.”

“I’ve wanted this since I joined FFA,” she said.

A senior at Burley High School, she has served as chapter and district president.

She’s already grown close to the other officers through the candidate process and is excited to serve with the team, she said.

“I hope to reach out to the members of all different backgrounds and help them find their place in FFA, as well as grow personally and be a positive voice for FFA,” she said.

Reporter Savannah Stroebel said she feels blessed and excited to serve Idaho FFA.

“It’s like a dream come true, and I’m super excited to get started,” she said.

She is a senior at Kuna High School and has served as chapter and district president. She plans to attend the University of Idaho to major agriculture education in pursuit of being an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor.

In the year ahead, she hopes to improve her leadership skills and learn from the experiences of FFA members around the state, she said.

“I hope to get more members excited about FFA and let them know they can wear the blue jacket even if they’re not from a farm background,” she said.

Sentinel Caleb Johnston said the candidate process has been a roller coaster of emotions and being elected a state officer is a surreal experience.

“My heart’s full. I’m ready to go serve,” he said.

He served as chapter president as a senior at New Plymouth High School and is now a freshman at Boise State University. He is majoring in chemistry and biology with an eye on working in the agricultural chemicals or animal genetics industries.

He said he’ll probably lighten his college course load in the coming year and focus on helping FFA members grow in an atmosphere of it being OK to be themselves, genuine and transparent with others.

Trump adviser credits FFA for his success Fri, 6 Apr 2018 12:25:28 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas TWIN Falls, Idaho — About 1,500 Idaho FFA members swarmed the campus of the College of Southern Idaho for the annual State Leadership Conference, and the school’s gymnasium was packed Thursday afternoon to hear keynote speaker Ray Starling.

An FFA alumnus and past national FFA vice president, Starling holds a high position in the Trump administration as assistant to the president for agriculture, trade and food assistance in the National Economic Council.

He shared his enthusiasm for FFA and his pleasure to be back among the FFA family at the conference, delighting members with his with blue-jacket humor.

For example, he said, you might be at an FFA conference if the crowd waiting to open the door is larger than the crowd trying to come through the door.

His message, however, was how FFA prepared him for every position and success in his career.

Before his White House appointment, Starling was chief of staff, chief general counsel and senior policy adviser for U.S. Sen. Tom Tillis, R-N.C. He also was general counsel for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and has experience in private practice.

“Twenty-three years ago, I sat where you are sitting now,” he told FFA members.

His FFA experiences are memorable, just like Idaho FFA members’ experiences are today. But back then, he had little grasp of “how significant the organization is and the influence it can have on your life,” he said.

Throughout his career, he’s faced many challenges. But every one of them came easier to him than they might have to someone else because of FFA, he said.

Doing something different is hard, and he had to do something different in each new position along the way. But whether it was litigating on behalf of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture or advocating for agricultural policy in the Legislature, he felt he had been in those situations before because of the experiences he had in FFA, he said.

“I had done that before. … I felt I had the home-field advantage because I had been in FFA,” he said.

In his position of helping President Trump develop policy that moves the agricultural economy forward, he feels “right at home because I had been in FFA and had been there before,” he said.

As one can imagine, meeting with the president and USDA secretary in the oval office is not a calm and casual experience, he said.

“But it’s not as hard as it sounds to someone who came up in FFA,” he said.

Whether it’s speaking to a roomful of strangers or people in position or advocating for agriculture, FFA has prepared him with the skills and confidence to succeed.

“In your life, you will have phenomenal opportunities for great experiences … because you were blue and gold,” he said.

“You will be in positions where you’re called to lead, and you will be able to because you were in FFA, he said.

Outgoing Idaho FFA officers wrap up a year of growth Thu, 5 Apr 2018 08:33:09 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas TWIN FALLS, Idaho — It’s been a whirlwind year for Idaho’s state FFA officers, who will retire on Saturday at the conclusion of the annual State Leadership Conference at the College of Southern Idaho.

They put on career development events for members, went on business and industry tours, attended leadership training conferences with other state leaders, visited chapters across the state, attended the National FFA Convention and a leadership seminar in South Africa and planned the state conference.

They learned a lot — about the organization, agriculture, fellow members and themselves.

Lindsey Stowell, state president, said she learned the importance of a positive attitude.

“The fact that I knew I only had 365 days to serve in this position really pushed me to think positively and relish each moment, whether it was stressful or not, and just get the job done,” she said.

Austen Thomason, state treasurer, learned the value of face-to-face interactions with members, advisors and supporters.

“I could sit behind a desk for days and send emails and make phone calls constantly, and I would never be able to mimic the impact of being on the road and talking face-to-face,” he said.

Sydney Anderson, state secretary, said she’s been able to build her understanding of true service, and interacting with members has been the most fulfilling experience of her life.

Randy Clements, state vice president, said he learned a lot about himself and others and the experience broadened his perspective on the impact of American agriculture.

The officers said their goals were to serve members, visit with as many members as possible to fuel their passion and advocate for agriculture.

“I am so proud to say that each and every chapter I visited voiced their passions with enthusiasm and showed me exactly what it means to be advocates for every side of agriculture,” Stowell said.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our nation, and this generation is the future — one I am proud to be a part of,” she said.

“Members continually surprised me with their new ideas for the future of agriculture,” she said.

Clements said he was surprised by the impact FFA has had across the nation, judging from the positive recognition he received when wearing his blue jacket.

Most surprising to Anderson was being looked up to by FFA members.

“Having members express their inspirations to us was the most surprising realization … and it really made me realize what service really means,” she said.

The officers said their year at the helm was extraordinary and unforgettable, and they have some advice for those who will soon assume their roles.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you have, so make the most of it … keep a positive attitude, a heart of service, and remember it’s all about the members,” Stowell said.

“Give it all your heart,” Clements said.

“Don’t wait a single second; get to know the members,” Thomason said.

He also advises new officers to be themselves, be personable and remember they have a lot to learn.

“You got elected because you are you, not because you’re the perfect state officer,” he said.

Anderson said there will be challenges and advises new officers to lead with a positive attitude.

“This is going to be the best year of your life, and I encourage you to take in every single moment with confidence and gratitude because it will fly by,” she said.

Oregon FFA installs new state leaders Tue, 27 Mar 2018 12:04:08 -0400 GEORGE PLAVEN REDMOND, Ore. — The newest members of the Oregon FFA state officer team realized, shortly after their election Monday, that each of them had one simple thing in common when deciding to run for a position of leadership.

They were inspired by a key figure along the way.

Take Andrew Gmirkin, who was chosen by delegates as the 2018-19 Oregon FFA state president. Gmirkin, of Eagle Point, Ore., does not come from a traditional agricultural background — his mom is a librarian, and his dad makes jewelry. He initially felt out of place joining FFA, until one of his chapter officers assured him that it does not matter whether he was raised on a farm or ranch.

“You can do anything in this organization you set your mind to,” Gmirkin said. “Now we’re here.”

Or there’s Mackenzie Price, of Sutherlin, Ore., who was elected state treasurer. As a freshman in high school, Price said she struggled with feelings of self-worth. It wasn’t until she attended a leadership camp that others helped her to realize her potential.

“I didn’t understand everything I was capable of,” Price said.

Together, the group made a commitment to be the same kind of people who help their peers feel confident to achieve their goals.

Devin Thacker, the newly elected State FFA secretary from Canby, Ore., said a big part of it is to just be yourself.

“That is honestly the best advice I’ve ever gotten,” Thacker said.

Elections took place Monday morning during the delegate business session, kicking off the final day of the 2018 Oregon FFA state convention held at the Deschutes Fair & Expo Center in Redmond, Ore. Nearly 1,500 FFA members — or “blue jackets,” as they call themselves — from 102 local chapters attended the convention to compete in career development events, attend workshops and network with colleagues.

In addition to Gmirkin, Price and Thacker, the state officer team includes Dylan Westfall, of Hermiston, as vice president; Sundee Speelman, of Adrian, as reporter; and Holly Silvey, of Bend, as sentinel. They will spend much of the next year, post-graduation, teaching and hosting workshops at schools across the state.

Kourtney Lehman, who served as Oregon FFA president last year, said the experience gave her the independence and leadership skills necessary for college, while also shaping her perspectives on life.

“It was amazing,” Lehman said. “It really pushes us as people to be responsible, to be better.”

Lehman, of Baker City, Ore., plans to attend Oregon State University in the fall and will major in agricultural business management with a minor in either marketing or communications.

The state convention, March 23-26, featured a full schedule of events and competitions as students aimed to represent themselves and their schools at the National FFA Convention & Expo this fall in Indianapolis. FFA offers career development in areas such as job interviews, agricultural issues and parliamentary procedure, designed to enhance students’ critical thinking, speaking and presentation.

Several workshops also introduced the kids to future opportunities in the working world. The OSU Teach Ag Club hosted “Day in the Life of an Ag Teacher,” while the Oregon Department of Agriculture and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service ran down careers available in their agencies to assist farmers and ranchers.

But the convention wasn’t all serious business. It afforded members plenty of opportunities to cut loose, dance and laugh with their friends. The final session almost had the feel of a rock concert, as state officers charged onto the stage beneath a tunnel of outstretched arms, music pumping and lights flashing.

The closing address went to Lee Wesenberg, the outgoing state reporter from Sutherlin. He boiled down the keys to success into six main points: personal philosophy, being your own hero, having intellect, conquering your reality and achieving excellence.

Spelled out, the acronym is P.H.I.R.E.

“Success isn’t about winning or losing. Success doesn’t even have a scoreboard,” Wesenberg said. “In the end, we must seek the impossible.”

FFA members use downtime to test skills Mon, 26 Mar 2018 09:29:57 -0400 GEORGE PLAVEN Beau Ditmore had never saddled a horse before, but was willing to give it a try Sunday morning at the 2018 Oregon FFA State Convention.

Granted, it wasn’t an actual horse, but rather a white plastic barrel fastened to a metal stepladder. Still, Ditmore learned the proper way to cinch a saddle around the makeshift steed while Anne Livingston, advisor to Blue Mountain Community College Collegiate FFA, provided basic instructions.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Ditmore admitted when he was finished. “If it was a real horse, it probably would have bucked.”

Ditmore, a freshman at Culver High School in central Oregon, was on hand to support fellow members of his FFA chapter at the state convention, held this year at the Deschutes Fair & Expo Center in Redmond.

BMCC Collegiate FFA, from Pendleton, Ore., was also on hand, bringing along a variety of hands-on activities for the high schoolers to try when they weren’t competing in an event, or waiting for the next workshop to begin.

Livingston, who is also director of marketing for the college, said the activities were meant to give kids something to do during downtime, as well as introduce them to agricultural programs offered at BMCC.

“Nobody likes to walk up and talk to someone they don’t know,” Livingston said. “But if they have a little something interactive, they’ll do that. That inspires the conversation.”

Apart from the saddle exercise, FFA members could test their skills in soil judging, practice welding patterns with crackers and spray cheese, or fly a tiny drone around an obstacle course marked by winding orange ribbon and blue and yellow balloons.

“It’s so fun to work with these kids,” Livingston said.

The event was originally envisioned to be a competition between BMCC and other collegiate FFA teams, but Livingston said the scheduling did not work out because many schools were on spring break.

Six students from BMCC willingly gave up the first five days of their own spring break to participate in the Oregon FFA State Convention, Livingston said. They hoped to show their high school counterparts that attending college is more than just sitting in a room with four white walls listening to lectures.

“Hands-on is huge,” Livingston said. “BMCC has relevant stuff.”

Lilian Woods, a freshman from Sandy High School, worked with Juniper Cosner of BMCC mashing soil into ribbons using their hands, analyzing its fragile, loamy makeup. Woods, who is in her first year of FFA, said she hopes the program will eventually lead her to scholarships to help pay for her college education.

Though Woods said she does not come from an agricultural background, she likes working with animals and believes doing FFA can help her become a better public speaker.

Ethan Akers, a senior at Heppner High School, said FFA has taught him leadership as well as practical skills, such as welding and operating heavy equipment — the latter of which he intends to pursue for a career.

“(FFA) has opened up a whole bunch more career opportunities, honestly,” Akers said.

FFA workshop highlights careers at ODA Mon, 26 Mar 2018 09:18:43 -0400 GEORGE PLAVEN There are plenty of opportunities to work in agriculture beyond just the farm or ranch.

That was the message of a workshop hosted by the Oregon Department of Agriculture during the 2018 Oregon FFA State Convention in Redmond.

Ben Krahn, livestock water quality specialist for the agency’s Confined Animal Feeding Operations program, gave a crash course on the vast inner workings of ODA, everything from foreign marketing and animal safety to helping neighbors resolve disputes.

Outreach to Oregon students is part of ODA’s latest five-year strategic plan — what officials call the “agriculture is cool” objective.

One thing ODA does not do is make laws, Krahn was quick to clarify. He described the department as servants of the Oregon Legislature, which in turn works for the public.

“We massage things to figure out what is in the best interest of everybody,” Krahn said.

In terms of helping to bring food from the farm to the table, Krahn said ODA not only works abroad by taking trade missions to countries such as China, but at home as well through programs such as the Buy Oregon initiative or Farm-to-School Network.

“In Oregon, we grow a crazy amount of food, and a crazy amount of products,” said Krahn, referring the state’s more than 200 types of crops. “We help to market those products.”

Fostering co-existence between farms and neighbors is another major issue, Krahn said, and though it can be challenging to solve differences, it can also be fun and enlightening.

The agency also has responsibility for protecting natural resources through things like water quality and animal safety. Jobs are available with ODA doing things like brand inspections, health certificates and bio-security, Krahn said.

To top it off, ODA runs a variety of certification and training programs, including organic agriculture, seed sampling and pesticides.

“We have all walks of life, and all expertise,” he said. “Because everything comes back to agriculture.”

Krahn encouraged FFA members to keep in touch with the agency for future job and internship openings.

“We’d love to hear from you,” he said. “We just hope you think of us.”

Western Innovator: Students get real-world lessons Fri, 23 Mar 2018 10:38:11 -0400 Dianna Troyer In their FFA and agriscience classes, students at Mackay High School in central Idaho are enrolling in college classes and experiencing unforgettable lessons through an innovative and flexible curriculum.

Under the supervision of Trent Van Leuven, 34, agriscience instructor and FFA adviser, students enroll in college classes, become certified to do artificial insemination in cattle through the Idaho Department of Agriculture, and help biologists trap deer.

They also run the state’s only year-round high school warm and cold water aquaculture laboratory, where they raise tilapia, trout and sturgeon. Van Leuven plans to eventually build a new lab with $35,000 in grants and other funding already committed to the project.

“I’ve always considered the whole world as my classroom,” said Van Leuven, who began teaching in Mackay in 2014. “Some teachers have come to accept a traditional role of what the world thinks teaching has to be. I try to use all my resources and ingenuity to bring basic concepts home to students. If an opportunity arises, I take it — even if it means ranchers asking for help working cattle and calling me up at 6 a.m. that same morning.”

Several years ago, a teaching opportunity arose when a local rancher donated a two-headed stillborn calf to the ag program. Van Leuven presented a dissection and taught an embryology class with it.

This winter, his students helped Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists trap mule deer to study population trends.

His students also run a hydroponic greenhouse, have an annual plant sale, raise calves, plan an itinerary and raise money to attend the National FFA convention, and organize a blood drive.

“I really appreciate great administrators who help make these opportunities possible, especially our dual enrollment college classes,” he said.

He has received instructor endorsements, enabling him to provide students dual enrollment college options. Through the College of Southern Idaho, he teaches an animal science class and agriculture management, enabling students to earn inexpensive college credits while studying in their Mackay classroom. He also teaches a range principles class through the University of Idaho.

Not all of Van Leuven’s lessons are limited to U.S. agriculture. When appropriate to a class, he shares his international teaching experiences.

Three years ago during the summer, he lived in Benin, a tiny country in West Africa known for cotton production. He developed a curriculum for school gardens through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Farmer-to-Farmer Program administered by Catholic Relief Services. The program promotes sustainable economic growth and food security. Another year, he has also learned tilapia-raising techniques in Brazil.

Van Leuven’s students also use an innovative award-winning teaching aid he built, a mobile cow skeleton. In 2012, the National Association of Agricultural Educators honored him with an Ideas Unlimited Award for using the skeleton.

“My lessons about things like primal carcass cuts, ruminant digestion, artificial insemination, and cattle body structure needed a hands-on aspect that would grab and hold students’ interest,” he said. “I couldn’t bring a cow into the classroom, so I did the next best thing.”

In 2016, his teaching philosophy and projects earned him a National Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award from the National Association of Agricultural Educators. Van Leuven was one of six winners nationwide and represented District 1, a region that encompasses nine western states.

“My peers who nominated me have taught me so much at various conferences and settings.”

A self-described lifelong learner, Van Leuven said he “tries to encourage my students to follow suit. I read once that 60 percent of college graduates never read another book after college. We should never stop learning.”

On a recent family vacation in San Diego, he met aquaculturists who helped him tap into a nationwide network of people who raise fish.

“We also went to a botanical garden to admire their succulents and tropical fruit section and explored ecosystems at a beach and zoo. There are always opportunities to learn whatever we do and wherever we go. Lifelong learning can help ag instructors — and they should seek out professional development that really would help them help students.”

Trent Van Leuven

Age: 34

Hometown: Roberts, Idaho

Education: University of Idaho, ag education, 2007

Family: Wife and son

Motivational sign in classroom: “I am who I choose to be.”

Quincy FFA goes to District IX LDEs Wed, 21 Mar 2018 16:51:17 -0400 Friday, March 16, was the date and Big Bend Community College was the place for the District IX Leadership Development Events. Nineteen members of the Quincy FFA competed for a chance to advance to state level competition. Prepared Public Speaking, Extemporaneous Public Speaking, Creed Speaking and Parliamentary Procedure were the LDEs that the Quincy FFA had participants in.

Erin Brisbine brought home the first place banner in Prepared Public Speaking and punched her ticket to state. In Prepared Speaking, competitors have to submit a manuscript in APA style that is scored prior to the event, then they have to present a 6-8 minute speech on an agriculture related topic.

Noah Nielson represented the Quincy Chapter in Extemporaneous Public Speaking and placed 7th overall. Extemporaneous speaking requires members to draw three possible topics from a list of 18 topics based on six broad areas of the agriculture industry. Then in 30 minutes prepare and present a 4-6 minute speech. Students may bring 5 sources of information to use in their preparation.

Rosey Combs, Dave Sulisto, and Maria Elias competed in the Creed Speaking LDE. Dave placed 5th, Maria 7th and Rosey 8th. Creed requires first year FFA members to recite the 5 paragraphs of the FFA Creed and answer 3 questions following the presentation.

Quincy had two teams in the Parliamentary Procedure LDE and both of them advanced to state placing 2nd and 3rd at District. Parliamentary Procedure requires members to take a written parli test, then do a presentation of parliamentary skills with 5 assigned motions, and 5 additional motions to be made by team members, the secretary’s minutes are also scored and each team member must answer an oral question. Quincy’s Gold team placed 2nd and was made up of Bethanny Safe, Anne Safe, Eli Westra, Sierra Reynolds, Paden Wallace and Bryanna Gray. Quincy’s Green team placed 3rd and was made up of Patrick White, Jordan Clark, Leslie Torres-Rubio, Cody Main, Eileen Perez and Stacia Sarty. Madison Lee and Jalynne Diaz were alternates for the Parliamentary teams.

Over the next month, Quincy Members will compete in the State Horse and Livestock Evaluation Career Development Events and prepare for the Ag Communications CDE and Meats Evaluation CDE as they make their way toward the 88th Washington State FFA Convention in Pullman the second week of May.

FFA skit discusses FSMA impact on processors Thu, 15 Mar 2018 12:23:19 -0400 Seven students from Sandy, Ore., High School paid a visit Thursday to the Capital Press to practice the skit they prepared for the upcoming state FFA convention on the impact a new law will have on food processors and livestock owners.

The skit focuses on issues surrounding the handling of processing byproducts that go into animal feed and pet food in light of strict new requirements that are part of the Food Safety Modernization Act. The regulations require added processing and protection of the feed from possible spoilage or other problems.

Titled “Byproducts for Bessy and Bruno,” the skit is a takeoff of the “Pioneer Woman” and “Rachael Ray” television shows and includes a panel discussion of the issues by students who represent ranchers, FFA members, food processors, government officials and animal rights activists. The skit will be part of the Ag Issues Forum at the FFA convention March 22-25 in Redmond, Ore.

“Each student took their part and made it their own,” said Trisha Smith, the chapter advisor.

The idea for the skit came from the managers of Ever Fresh Fruit Co., a nearby business that processes apples. The regulations written to implement FSMA include strict new requirements for byproducts that can be used for animal feed, the students said. The regulations add to the cost of doing business and mean higher prices for consumers, they said.

Fallon Marshall, the chapter and Mt. Hood district vice president, played Rachael Ray, and Anna Persell, the district and chapter treasurer, played the “Pioneer Woman.” Both are juniors.

Other cast members were Kadi Atiyeh, the chapter secretary and a junior; Evin Hagemann, a freshman; Kara Atiyeh, chapter reporter and a junior; Cailey Allzey, chapter president and a senior; and Robert Gorham, chapter historian and a sophomore.

The cast also gave performances for other groups, organizations and businesses in Salem and Portland.

New Washington FFA Foundation exec looks to create more ag partnerships Wed, 7 Mar 2018 10:47:00 -0400 Matw Weaver Jesse Taylor, the new executive director of the Washington FFA Foundation, says he hopes to create a “wide net” of partnerships with every sector of the state’s agriculture industry.

“I believe that corporate sponsorship creates a win-win for them as well as the foundation,” he said.

As executive director, Taylor said, one of his top priorities is to educate and create a larger work force of “agriculturists” in the state.

Taylor joined FFA in high school in 1998. He served as a state FFA officer in 2001-2002.

“It helped me go to college and it drove my career path and what I have done with my life,” he said. “... This position gives the opportunity to give back to the broader FFA community and agriculture industry as a whole.”

As an officer, Taylor participated in every statewide function the program offers. He also became aware of the costs associated with the 12-month program of activities.

“Although the FFA is an inter-curriculuar part of our common schools in Washington state, the funding process that it takes to run the association falls squarely on the shoulders of the students and our corporate and industry association partners,” he said.

Taylor said the agriculture industry should know that there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to partnering with the foundation.

“I am willing and able to craft unique partnership models for each and every entity that feels the call to advance our cause of growing young people into the next generation of leaders in the agriculture community,” he said.

“Jesse Taylor is an outstanding addition to our Washington Team AgEd and FFA, as be brings a deep blend of legislative, industry and agriculture education experience,” Dennis Wallace, state FFA advisor, said in a press release. “I know he will work tirelessly with our internal and external partners to ensure that Washington FFA and agriculture education are strongly represented and supported by the Washington agriculture industry.”

Taylor has been a legislative aide for Washington Sen. Mark Schoesler since 2013. Taylor also worked as an agricultural educator for three years.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture economics at Washington State University.

For more information about the Washington FFA Foundation, visit

Quincy chapter members, supporters receive FFA honors Fri, 2 Mar 2018 14:57:30 -0400 Two members of the Quincy FFA Chapter, the advisors and one community member have been honored with awards from the District IX of the Washington Association of Agriculture Educators.

Chapter President Noah Nielson and Reporter Bethanny Safe were approved and certified by the district as recipients of the State FFA Degree. To qualify they had to meet certain qualifications including earning or investing a minimum of $1,000 in a production SAE project, working a minimum of 300 hours in a placement SAE project, participating in at least 5 FFA leadership activities at or above the district level and completing a minimum of 25 hours of community service in at least 3 different activities.

They will receive their award at the 88th Washington State FFA Convention in May in Pullman on the campus of Washington State University.

Jim Poldevart, longtime supporter of the Quincy FFA and member of the Quincy High School Agriculture Education Advisory Board, was nominated and confirmed as the District IX recipient of the Honorary State FFA Degree. He will be honored on stage at state convention, as well.

District IX Ag Teachers also recognized the Quincy High School as the District IX Outstanding Secondary Agriculture Education Program for 2018. That award will be presented at the WAAE Summer Conference in Vancouver in June.

Quincy FFA members attend leadership workshop Tue, 27 Feb 2018 13:46:11 -0400 Camp Cispus Learning Center near Randle was the site of the 212 Degree National FFA Leadership Workshop.

The 212 workshop is designed for 9th and 10th grade FFA members and 360 for 11th and 12th graders.

The Quincy FFA had 6 members attend the 212 workshop. The members worked from 11:30 a.m. on Saturday to noon on Sunday.

They worked through the topics of Growth and Personal Habits, Mental Growth, Emotional Growth, Physical Growth, Social Growth and Life-long Growth with about 100 other younger FFA members from all corners of Washington state.

In all, just under 200 FFA members attended the two-day training on Feb. 10-11 in the shadow of Mount Rainier.

The members said they really enjoyed the opportunity to explore how to improve their character, leadership abilities and networking skills, and they did it all without cell service or wi-fi. It was a unique opportunity for students to go technology-free and have to talk to each other the old-fashioned way without Snapchat, Instagram, and tweets.

The members will put on a workshop for the rest of the Quincy Chapter later this spring with what they learned at the conference.

Washington FFA students attend leadership conferences Mon, 19 Feb 2018 08:00:48 -0400 Washington FFA students attended the 212 Degrees and 360 Degrees Leadership Conferences Feb. 10-11 in Randle, Wash.

The conference based on 212 degrees — the temperature at which water boils — focuses on taking students to the “boiling point of leadership,” according to a Washington FFA press release.

“At 211 degrees water is extremely hot, but just one more degree gets us to the next level,” the press release states.

The two-day conference was focused on student development and helped FFA members become aware of their personal growth. FFA members attended sessions on making positive decisions and setting specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time (SMART) goals.

360 degree conference takes students “full circle” in terms of chapter leadership. The two-day conference focuses on the importance of influence and how to become an influential leader. Students conducted chapter needs assessments, crafted influence plans for their chapters and developed strategies.

More than 8,000 students across the country will participate in a 212 Degrees or 360 Degrees leadership conference, an activity of the National FFA Organization, sponsored by Syngenta.

Four Washington FFA state officers tour South Africa Wed, 14 Feb 2018 10:37:03 -0400 Four FFA leaders from Washington state recently returned from a 12-day educational and cultural experience in South Africa.

State reporter Kelci Scharff of Cheney, treasurer Sydney Klaveano of Pullman, vice president Mollee Gray of Medical Lake and secretary Taylor Enns of White River participated in the 2018 International Leadership Seminar for State Officers, an annual international opportunity through the National FFA Organization.

The trip allows FFA members to experience a foreign culture, learn about international agriculture and become more knowledgeable about the global marketplace, according to a Washington FFA press release.

Seventy-four past and present state FFA officers representing 24 states left the U.S. on Jan. 4. The group traveled throughout South Africa while surveying the agricultural landscape. FFA officers met with U.S. Embassy officials to learn about U.S. and South African trade relations; toured crop and livestock operations; met with business and industry leaders; and explored a private game reserve that is home to lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalo. The group also met with fruit exporters, abalone producers and others.

The experience was truly once in a life time, the officers reported.

“It was interesting to see how extra virgin olive oil was made — I use it often to cook, but never realized how complex the process is,” Klaveano said.

The trip included opportunities they would not get to see in Washington.

“Getting to see the different types of animals on the safari was truly thrilling as I’ve only ever seen them in the zoo,” Gray said.

“The embryo transfer facility that we visited interested me as it is a potential career option for me,” said Scharff, who raises cattle.

“The indigenous plants in South Africa were extravagant, as we use many of them here as medicine,” Enns stated.

“We hope that through a structured experience like ILSSO, students will not only see the importance of agriculture on an international level but understand it is essential to feeding the world,” Eric Nelson, program manager with the National FFA Organization, said. “This seminar exposes students to culture and food production practices beyond what they are accustomed to in the United States.”

Before departing the U.S., the students completed eight weeks of online coursework related to cross-cultural adaptability. The program was made possible by corporate sponsors Bunge North America and John Deere. Students shared their experience throughout their trip on Twitter and Instagram.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 653,404 student members who belong to one of 8,568 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 345,812 alumni members in 2,051 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.

Meridian FFA students ‘Speak Up!’ Tue, 13 Feb 2018 14:02:35 -0400 Ellie Higgins2017-2018 Reporter Public speaking may be difficult, but eight Meridian, Idaho, FFA members recently rocked their speeches!

These members competed in three different speaking competitions over a period of six days. Whether it’s prepared speaking or extemporaneous, Meridian FFA took the gold in speaking competitions. Members that competed in these events learned personal skills such as public speaking, quick thinking, confidence and sportsmanship.

On Jan. 18 at the Meridian High School Career Technical Center, the Farm Bureau Prepared Speaking contest took place. Eight Meridian FFA members competed, including Landon Bartlett, Madigan Grigsby, Grace Haws, Amy Heikkila, Ellie Higgins (5th place, $50 prize), Courtney Marshall (2nd place, $150 prize), Cassidey Plum (3rd place, $100 prize) and Ashton Shaul (1st place, $200 prize). Each member delivered a self-written speech following the topic of “Agriculture: The Engine That Pulls Idaho’s Economy.” Every participant did a fantastic job with their speeches, and Ashton Shaul will be continuing on to compete in Boise Valley District (BVD) Prepared Speaking Career Development Event (CDE). She is representing the Meridian FFA Chapter because of her outstanding 1st place speech, and Courtney Marshall will additionally be competing in the Farm Bureau District event.

At the Kuna Grange Speaking competition on Jan. 22, two Meridian FFA members participated in different events at the Kuna Grange event hall. Amy Heikkila competed in Prepared Speaking, while Ashton Shaul competed in Extemporaneous Speaking. Ashton won her event and the Amanda Reynolds Memorial Award. She will represent the Meridian FFA Chapter in the BVD Extemporaneous Speaking CDE. Both of these ladies did a fantastic job!

Finally, at the first annual Nampa Chamber of Commerce prepared speaking contest, three Meridian FFA members gave their prepared speeches. Amy Heikkila, Ellie Higgins and Ashton Shaul competed with three other FFA members from other chapters for the chance to give their speech at Ford Idaho Center. Ashton Shaul placed 1st and received a $100 prize. She also received the honor of presenting her speech at the Ford Idaho Center on Feb. 6.

Prepared speaking is a difficult skill that not many people are willing to try. The dedication of these individuals is definitely noticed, and the biggest congratulations should be given to all participants. We hope to see these members (plus more!) back next year to try their hand at public speaking again.

Thank you to the several panels of judges for each competition, the organizations who provided monetary donations, the advisors who dedicated their time to coaching students, and the members themselves who spent hours preparing their speeches. We hope you all compete again next year!

Qunicy FFA members attend leadership workshop Tue, 13 Feb 2018 14:15:23 -0400 Camp Cispus Learning Center near Randle was the site of the 212 Degree National FFA Leadership Workshop.

The 212 workshop is designed for 9th and 10th grade FFA members and 360 for 11th and 12th graders.

The Quincy FFA had 6 members attend the 212 workshop. The members worked from 11:30 a.m. on Saturday to noon on Sunday.

They worked through the topics of Growth and Personal Habits, Mental Growth, Emotional Growth, Physical Growth, Social Growth and Life-long Growth with about 100 other younger FFA members from all corners of Washington state.

In all, just under 200 FFA members attended the two-day training on Feb. 10-11 in the shadow of Mount Rainier.

The members said they really enjoyed the opportunity to explore how to improve their character, leadership abilities and networking skills, and they did it all without cell service or wi-fi. It was a unique opportunity for students to go technology-free and have to talk to each other the old-fashioned way without Snapchat, Instagram, and tweets.

The members will put on a workshop for the rest of the Quincy Chapter later this spring with what they learned at the conference.

Rodeo champion offers message of inspiration to FFA members Fri, 9 Feb 2018 10:22:40 -0400 Matw Weaver SPOKANE — In January 2010, Amberley Snyder made a decision that would change her life forever.

A rodeo champion, the then-18-year-old was on her way from Utah to the Denver Stock Show and Rodeo, and decided not to wear her seatbelt after a stop at a gas station in Wyoming.

“I wear my seltbelt all the time, my truck will ding at me if I don’t have it on,” she said during her presentation at the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum. “But this morning I had a stomachache all morning. I thought, ‘I’m going to take it off just for a minute.’”

Less than 10 miles down the road, Snyder looked down to check her map. She looked up and realized she had gone into the other lane. She overcorrected and her truck slid off the road and rolled. She was thrown from it and slammed into a fence post.

She later phoned her father.

“This is how this phone call goes to my dad,” she recalled. “‘Hey, Dad?’ He says, ‘Hey.’ I said, ‘So I got into a car accident.’ He said, ‘OK, how bad?’ I said, ‘Pretty bad. I rolled my truck.’ He said, ‘Are you OK?’ I said, ‘I can’t feel my legs.’ He said, ‘Amberley, are you paralyzed?’ I said, ‘Dad, I don’t know, I’m just telling you I can’t feel my legs.’”

Today, Snyder competes in rodeo professionally. She’s even beaten her barrel racing times from before the accident, she said.

During her Feb. 8 presentation to 487 FFA members and guests, Snyder wore the first buckle she won while riding the first horse she trained after her accident.

“Now keep in mind, I won 70-something buckles before my accident,” she said. “It wasn’t if I was going to win one in the year, it was how many I was going to win. And I don’t say that in a boasting way, I’m just telling you that’s how it was. This buckle took me six years to win. ... Even though I may not be like I was before, I can still compete and win with the best out there. Maybe not the way I planned, but definitely still possible.”

She described revisiting the locations she was at before her accident with her mother several years later.

“So I was telling her, ‘Mom, this is the last place I ate, this is the last place I filled my truck up at. Mom, this is the last place I was walking. And this span of fence, well Mom, that’s where my life completely changed,’” she said. “Of course, this was pretty rough on both of us.”

About 20 minutes later, she stopped at a gas station and noticed a sign hanging on the wall: ‘Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

“With the right attitude, we can move forward and make our firsts better than those lasts ever were,” she said. “Our attitude makes a big difference.”


FFA member discusses proposal to require 2 ag ed credits to graduate Wed, 7 Feb 2018 09:06:26 -0400 Sean Ellis BOISE — Idaho lawmakers have been briefed on an impending bill that would require all high school students to complete at least two agriculture education classes to graduate.

Anna Peterson, an Idaho FFA member and self-described “advocate for agriculture,” provided members of the House and Senate agricultural affairs committees with an overview of her proposed legislation, which she plans to introduce this year.

Armed with a large binder containing all the research she has done on the proposal, Peterson, a recent high school graduate, sketched out her plan in broad details.

Asked whether she envisioned the required ag courses being incorporated into already available classes, she said she “would see this as a completely new course with a full emphasis on agriculture.”

Peterson, vice president of the Nampa FFA chapter, said she did not grow up on a farm but fell in love with agriculture through her involvement with FFA and while milking cows on a dairy.

Rattling off facts about agriculture’s importance to Idaho’s economy, Peterson said it’s important that all students have at least a basic appreciation of the state’s farming industry before they graduate.

“We really excel at agriculture” but “students aren’t learning about the jobs and careers that are available in agriculture,” she said. “We learned about math, we learned about literature, but we were never mandated to learn about something that we consume on a daily basis and that’s our agriculture products. There is a lot to agriculture that people don’t know.”

A curriculum that Peterson has developed for her proposed course would include an introduction to food production and it would teach students about animal and plant science and such things as food safety regulations, the difference between conventional and organic production, the science behind genetically modified crops and the different careers available in the agricultural sector.

“Congratulations. You’ve done an excellent job,” Rep. Christy Zito, a Republican farmer from Hammett, told Peterson. “I’m so proud of what you’ve done here.”

Idaho FFA State Secretary Sydney Anderson, who grew up with Peterson and also did not have a farming background, spoke in support of the proposal and told legislators her love of farming was sparked by FFA and agriculture education classes.

“When I was enrolled in an intro to agriculture class, it really opened up so many windows for me,” she said.

“I find it amazing how may students don’t have the respect for Idaho agriculture and agriculture as a whole,” Anderson said. “Our students need to be made aware of the career opportunities that are available to them.”

Quincy FFA kicks off spring competition season Tue, 6 Feb 2018 11:27:08 -0400 Quincy, Wash. — The Quincy FFA kicked off the Spring CDE/LDE Season in fine fashion at the Sub District Creed and Employable Skills Leadership Development Event in Wilson Creek on Monday, Feb. 5. This is the first of a string of competitions that wrap up the second week of May at the Washington State FFA Convention in Pullman.

The Creed Speaking LDE requires first year members to recite the 5 paragraphs of the FFA Creed and then answer 3 questions about its meaning. It is the foundation contest to build the rest of the leadership skills on. For freshman it is a way to conquer their nerves and learn to stand and deliver. The top five competitors at Sub District move on to District to compete for the 3 slots allotted to District IX in state level competition. Quincy had 3 competitors, and all 3 advanced to District. Dave Sulisto placed 3rd, Maria Elias 4th, and Rosey Combs 5th to all move on.

In Employable Skills, members have complete a resume, write a cover letter and create a job description for a job that they are qualified for. These materials are turned in 2 weeks prior to the competition to be scored by the judges. At the event members went through a personal interview with the judges. At District competitors will also have to add a job application and follow up letter. Then at state they will add a phone interview and networking opportunity to their practicums. Gavin Sahli placed 2nd and was joined by Zach Westra who placed 3rd to advance. Noah Nielson also competed but did not move on.

Quincy FFA members will compete in a wide variety of CDE and LDE in the next few months. Leadership events include Prepared Public Speaking, Extemporaneous Public Speaking, Creed Speaking, Employable Skills, Parliamentary Procedure, Conduct of Chapter Meetings, Agriculture Issues Forum, and First Year Member. Career Development Events include Horse Evaluation, Livestock Evaluation, Meats Evaluation, Agriculture Sales and Food Science.

Idaho FFA Foundation receives $100,000 gift Wed, 31 Jan 2018 08:53:39 -0400 Sean Ellis BOISE — The wife of Idaho’s late Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa, known during his day as a champion of agriculture, has donated $100,000 to the Idaho FFA Foundation in honor of her husband.

The donation was announced Jan. 29 during Idaho FFA’s annual “Day on the Hill” event, which is named after Pete Cenarrusa, who died in 2013. He started the first agriculture classes at Cambridge and Carey high schools and was a strong supporter of Idaho agriculture.

His wife, Freda Cenarrusa, raised the money by selling a piece of property near Carey the couple lived on during their sheep ranching days.

“I just want to say I’m happy, you’re happy and Pete is ecstatic,” she told hundreds of FFA members, legislators and members of the state’s agriculture industry after the gift was announced.

The money will be used to establish the Idaho FFA Foundation Pete and Freda Cenarrusa Endowment Fund, which will provide financial support annually to help fund leadership and career development programs for FFA members.

“This $100,000 gift from Freda Cenarrusa in honor of Pete Cenarrusa is an amazing legacy gift for Idaho FFA,” Idaho FFA Foundation Executive Director Laura Wilder told Capital Press. “This gift will help fund Idaho FFA career and leadership development activities for Idaho FFA members, forever.”

The annual dividends generated by the endowment will go to the Idaho FFA Foundation’s general fund and will be allocated by members of the group’s board of trustees to the areas of greatest need, she said.

“We have so many opportunities for our students to develop career and leadership skills and this really helps us use the money to benefit the most students with the greatest need,” Wilder said.

Hundreds of FFA members, wearing their iconic blue jackets, descend on Boise every year for the Day on the Hill event, where they meet face-to-face with lawmakers and experience first-hand how laws are passed.

They also meet with leaders of the state’s agriculture industry and members of Idaho’s farm commissions.

“It’s good to see them interact with legislators,” said Rep. Scott Bedke, a Republican Rancher from Oakley and speaker of the house. “It reminds these legislators that represent suburban districts how important agriculture is.”

Bedke, a former FFA member, said lawmakers attend a lot of functions during the legislative session “but there are none more important that this one.”

Tom Clifton, an FFA adviser in Jerome, said the event is the first chance a lot of younger FFA members have to participate in a major leadership event and for the older ones, “it’s sort of a reinforcement of what they’ve learned, what they’ve been going through the last three or for years. It’s a wonderful event for these kids to keep them on the right track.”

He said the forum is also a great reminder to legislators of the important role agriculture plays in Idaho’s economy.

“They know what the lifeblood of Idaho is and it’s agriculture and it’s good that the kids reinforce that,” Clifton said.

Idaho FFA speech winner will speak at Nampa Ag Forum Tue, 30 Jan 2018 11:05:13 -0400 Sean Ellis NAMPA, Idaho — A Meridian High School FFA member won a prepared speech contest with a presentation about how genetically modified crops can help Idaho farmers continue to feed the world despite the continuing loss of farmland.

Ashton Shaul, a senior, memorized her entire 8-minute presentation and was the only one of the six competitors not to use notes.

She has been invited to repeat her presentation Feb. 6 during the Nampa Chamber of Commerce’s 5th Annual Ag Forum, which will feature a panel discussion about the steady disappearance of farmland in southwestern Idaho.

A catalyst for this year’s Ag Forum theme was a recent Boise State University study that projected rapid development growth in the Treasure Valley of southwestern Idaho would result in the loss of between 110,000 and 240,000 acres of farmland by the year 2100.

Some groups have started thinking of ways to help stem the loss of farmland in Idaho through the use of such methods as a voluntary statewide farmland easement program.

But Shaul argued that the use of genetically modified crops, known as GMOs, was the best way to help Idaho farmers produce more food on less land.

She said “the solution is right in front of us, yet it’s still rejected by society based on unfounded fears” and anti-GMO claims “are exaggerated to demonize agriculturists who are trying to feed the same population that condemns them.”

The use of biotech crops allows farmers to produce more food on less land, “which is specifically relevant to Idaho, seeing as we are now one of the fastest growing states in the country,” Shaul said.

As an example of how fast the Treasure Valley is growing, she said, the West Ada County School District is projected to have 70,000 students by the year 2050, double it current amount.

As most people understand, she added, “more people equals less farmland.”

“Biotechnology is not our enemy,” Shaul said. “Through the use of biotechnology, we have seen amazing advancements in the agriculture industry as a whole....”

“Urbanization doesn’t have to be the death of our agriculture industry but it could be the birth of a new era in Idaho agriculture,” she said. “One where we’re ... (known) as the pioneers of new agricultural technologies and the state that fought to feed the world.”

The purpose of this year’s Ag Forum is to educate Canyon County’s business and agriculture communities about the heavy pressure on farmland, said Nampa Chamber of Commerce Director of Operations Amy Bowman.

“As farmers execute their private property rights to sell their land, and agricultural lands turns into asphalt, the neutral role of the Nampa chamber is to bring the community together to become educated and engaged around the topic of agricultural land and planned development,” she said in an email.

Meridian FFA’s winter of accomplishment Mon, 15 Jan 2018 14:25:14 -0400 Ellie HigginsMeridian FFA Reporter The Meridian, Idaho, FFA chapter has recently participated in several district competitions, completed many service projects and held a unique chapter meeting. From selling produce, to bringing home a district award, the chapter has held many successes in the recent months.

On Nov. 29, 10 chapter members attended Boise Valley District (BVD) Career Development Events (CDEs) at Vallivue High School. Members Rene Coddens (1st high individual Electricity & 1st high individual Arc/MIG Welding), Brian Regner (1st high individual Small Gas Engines & 1st high individual Tool ID), Brett Osborne (1st high individual Oxy/TIG Welding), and Cody Duff (2nd high individual Metal ID & Tool Sharpening) competed in the Agricultural Mechanics CDE, placing 1st as a team. This difficult and practical contest requires a thorough knowledge of welding, tools and engines.

Freshmen members Amy Heikkila (8th individual), Nani McKague, (17th individual), Grace Haws (20th individual), Natalie Vennell (27th individual), and Connor Medema (29th individual) attended to compete in the Greenhand Knowledge test. These eager freshmen have already received their Greenhand FFA Degrees, and studied valuable FFA knowledge to compete in this CDE.

Finally, Ellie Higgins attended to compete in the Employment Skills Leadership Development Event (LDE). This contest centers around the real world skills of applying for a job effectively. Completing a resume, cover letter, job application, personal interview, and follow up letter are the vital portions of this contest. Ellie placed 1st, and will be continuing on to represent the Meridian FFA Chapter at State Leadership Conference in April. Thank you to Miss Liz Russell, 2017-2018 BVD Advisor, for putting on this event, to the BVD Officers for assisting with the competitions, and to Mr. Alan Heikkila for driving the school bus.

The Meridian FFA annual Produce Sale took place from December 6th through the 14th in the Meridian Career Technical Center (CTC). Chapter members began selling produce to family, friends and local businesses even weeks before the sale took place. High quality apples, grapefruit, oranges, potatoes, and onions were grown, both from out of state and from local producers. The Meridian chapter raised a profit of approximately $10,400, which will be used to fund chapter activities, and assist members in paying for jackets, conference costs, and travel expenses. In addition, 66 donation variety boxes were sold and then donated to needy families in the Meridian area.

Finally, on Dec. 14, the Meridian FFA Chapter Christmas meeting was held at the Meridian CTC. Chapter members attended to give back to their community, and celebrate the holidays with fellow members. Making holiday cards for veterans in our area allowed attending members to show their support of our country and our veterans, while packaging the 66 holiday donation boxes gave them a chance to give back to families in need. These service projects, along with the baking contest and games at the Christmas meeting provided members with a unique and fun chance to participate in FFA.

Overall, the Meridian FFA Chapter has completed many amazing projects. With the season of giving in full swing, Meridian FFA has fully embodied that spirit. Giving back to others is incredibly important to the member of the Meridian FFA Chapter, as it allows them to express their gratitude to others who support the FFA. Thank you to everyone who bought from and helped plan the Produce Sale, and those who planned and attended the Christmas meeting, and everyone that donated their time to make these events possible. It really was a wonderful winter for the Meridian FFA Chapter!

Quincy FFA member chosen for range management forum Wed, 10 Jan 2018 17:23:48 -0400 Quincy, Wash. — Erin Brisbine, a senior FFA member at Quincy High School, has be selected by the Pacific Northwest Section of the Society of Range Management to participate in the High School Youth Forum at the society’s annual meeting.

This year’s meeting is Jan. 28-Feb. 1 in Sparks, Nev. The meeting theme is “Empowerment through Applied Science.”

The SRM is an international organization that strives to promote public awareness of the importance of sound management and use of rangeland, the world’s largest land base. In 1966 the SRM recognized the need to involve youth in the range-related activities and education provided at this annual meeting. Since that time, the youth forum has been a highlight of the annual meetings. Volunteers of the SRM Student Activities Committee conduct the program.

High school delegates to the HSYF are chosen by each of the 21 individual sections of the parent society throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico, based on their high degree of interest in the range and natural resources field as well as their exemplary dedication and effort to learn more about these areas.

While at the HSYF, they will have the opportunity to meet people from many countries and get a firsthand view of what SRM is all about including its organization, goals and the role it plays on a world-wide basis.

The goals of the HSYF are: 1) provide insight for these students concerning the function and working of a professional society; 2) provide opportunities to meet society members; 3) provide a format that encourages thinking and enhancement of communicative skills; 4) provide an opportunity to learn about range and natural resource management and future careers through interaction with society professionals; 5) provide an opportunity to learn about the ecology and natural resources of the annual meeting site; and 6) provide an atmosphere that fosters camaraderie and lasting friendships.

As one of the more important activities, each delegate to the forum competes in a scientific paper presentation, with the content covering a range-related topic. All presentations will be judged by a diverse panel of judges, with the top five papers being recognized at the SRM awards ceremony. The top paper winner is invited to next year’s meeting to help with the forum and present their paper to the general membership of the society. Other activities will include a local ecological field tour of the meeting site and a program to enhance communication skills.

Since the number of delegates that attend each year is limited, selection for this activity is considered a high honor for those students selected.

Erin’s paper is titled “Obstacles to Opportunities: Cattlemen of the Quincy Valley” and covers the changes of the Quincy Valley from native grassland to irrigated paradise and how the local cattlemen have had to adjust their operations and grazing practices over the past 130 years. The obstacles that they have overcome and the opportunities they have created for themselves.

For further information regarding the Society for Range Management log on to For more information about the High School Youth Forum contact Barron S. Rector, co-chairman of the HSYF subcommittee, at the Extension Ecosystem Science and Management Office at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.

Washington FFA state adviser looks to evolve program Tue, 9 Jan 2018 09:07:48 -0400 Matw Weaver Denny Wallace says FFA has always been in his blood.

“It’s all about leadership, citizenship and cooperation,” he said. “The thing about agriculture is you’re working with the soil, nature and animals. You’re getting to see what your responsibility and care can do in the real world.”

Wallace started in FFA as a student in 1967 and served as a state officer in his senior year of high school. He became an agriculture teacher in 1976 in Eatonville, and taught in Yelm until 2010.

Wallace became state FFA adviser in July, replacing his daughter, Rebecca Wallace. He is also program supervisor for agricultural sciences in career and technical education in the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Olympia.

FFA takes students, no matter their background or belief system, and teaches them to be successful in business and life, Wallace said.

“You get to see unmolded clay coming into the education system that has a lot of potential and you get to find out what they can actually do, just by giving them the self-confidence and training they need,” he said.

In the legislature this year, the Washington FFA Association, with the support of the AgForestry Leadership program participants, is seeking $500,000 in state funding annually. The money would fund the FFA association’s executive director position and establish a grant program to provide resources for low-income students.

The request would help provide a consistent source for the state association’s expenses. Right now the position is funded using state and national sources and donations, Wallace said.

FFA also hopes to incorporate agricultural subjects with the state Core Plus program, which offers training in the skilled trades, so students can receive academic credit.

“We have an uphill battle,” Wallace said. “There’s a lot of districts that think the only science is theoretical science taught out of a textbook. They don’t see how irrigation or soils or some of the things we teach in agriculture is science, and yet, for those in agriculture, you know that it’s all science. We’re teaching it in an applied manner.”

Wallace is also looking to “evolve” FFA’s programs to remain relevant to students’ needs.

“What skill set is relevant for today’s future, which ones do we need to cut, and what do we need to replace them with?” he asked. “You’ve got to stay relevant, you’ve got to be fresh and yet you want to respect where we came from. Teaching kids how to lead, how to work with others and how to be good citizens is at the root of all of this.”

FFA collects 350,000 pounds of food for needy families Mon, 18 Dec 2017 17:18:38 -0400 Geoff Parks PERRYDALE, Ore. — It was a windfall of good news this fall for Perrydale High School’s ag education and FFA programs.

In addition to celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Food For All drive benefiting families in need with a record collection of 350,000 pounds of food, the Perrydale FFA Chapter adviser, Christina Lorenz, recently brought home a national ag award and helped secure a substantial state-funded grant for the school’s ag education program.

Perrydale’s ag program was awarded $372,286 in Revitalization Grant funds from the Oregon Department of Education and fourth-year teacher Lorenz was awarded a Turn the Key Scholarship during the recent National Association of Agricultural Educators convention in Nashville.

The grant will be used to upgrade the school’s ag education program and Lorenz’s award is meant to be “a means of encouraging young teachers to remain in the profession and recognize their participation in professional activities,” according to the NAAE.

Perrydale’s iconic Food For All program has evolved into a concerted effort by the FFA students in all of the Lower Willamette FFA District — including Central, Dallas, Willamina, Sheridan, Perrydale, Amity, Dayton and Yamhill-Carlton high schools — in making a massive effort in gathering, packaging and distributing donated produce to needy families.

The vegetables and produce collected and distributed range from local rutabagas, beets, parsnips and other root vegetables to pears from the Hood River area, potatoes from Hermiston and even oranges and fruit from area distributors.

Food For All was begun in 1998 by former Perrydale FFA adviser Kirk Hutchinson with one donated tote of potatoes. In 2015, over 260,000 pounds were collected and last year the students collected and distributed 320,000 pounds.

All of Perrydale School District’s students, from preschool to 12th grade, participate in the Food For All program’s activities each year, Lorenz said. What they get out of the effort is much more than just a chance to do some hard work.

Students make about eight to 10 trips to reach out to partners prior to collection efforts, Lorenz said.

“The trips are beneficial for a number of reasons,” she said. “Students are getting out from a school environment and into a business setting and are able to see how those businesses operate and to make a sales pitch to them.

“They get to translate what they learn in the classroom to real life.”

Food For All works with community outreach groups to identify families in need and distribute 40- to 50-pound bags of food to them each year. Food banks, local organizations such as the Knights of Columbus, the Elks Club and churches that adopt families in need are all put into the distribution mix.

“This project is amazing in so many ways,” Lorenz said. “But the most obvious way is that it gives to families in need and teaches students to serve their communities and pay it forward.”