Capital Press | FFA Capital Press Sat, 22 Oct 2016 04:46:24 -0400 en Capital Press | FFA Valley Wide Co-op donates $3,800 to West Side FFA Tue, 18 Oct 2016 18:16:43 -0400 DAYTON, Idaho — Valley Wide Cooperative and Valley Agronomics LLC donated $3,800 to the West Side School District, which will use the funds to build a local greenhouse.

The West Side FFA students will be working with their advisers to put the greenhouse together. The greenhouse will serve as not only a place the students can grow and sell flowers and plant starts, but will be a classroom setting for two new programs: herbology and soil science.

The students will have hands-on experience with both classes that will be taught by the ag teachers.

There are currently 90 students enrolled in the program and 85 of those students are enrolled in the FFA program.

“With Valley Wide’s contribution the students at West Side will be able to utilize the greenhouse to facilitate hands on learning in plant and soil science, as well as provide fundraising opportunities” stated Mitch Bowles, FFA adviser and ag instructor for the Dayton High School.

“Valley Wide Cooperative has a direct impact on the communities that we serve. We are excited to be able to provide funds to the West Side School District to help the youth further their ag education,” said Jason Pollard, director of marketing for Valley Wide Cooperative.

Since 1920 Valley Wide Cooperative has been helping farmers and ranchers build their homes and businesses through dedication and expertise. Valley Wide is involved in every community we are a part of, and we are helping to cultivate and strengthen the current and next generation of farmers.

For more information, please visit

FFA honors board member for going ‘extra mile’ Mon, 17 Oct 2016 12:49:31 -0400 CRAIG REED UMPQUA, Ore. — Elin Miller was a seven-year member of FFA as a young adult. She said those FFA experiences were strong influences on her future, providing her the skills that led to a successful business career with major corporations and government agencies.

For the past 20 years, Miller has been giving back to that program that helped set her future.

The National FFA Organization will recognize Miller’s volunteer efforts by presenting her with the VIP Citation at the 89th National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Ind. The honor will be awarded to Miller Friday. It recognizes “individuals who have provided exceptional support of school-based agricultural education and FFA.”

Miller was a four-year member of FFA at Westwood High School in Mesa, Ariz., and then a three-year member while attending the University of Arizona in Tucson.

“FFA changed my life personally,” said Miller, who with her husband, Bill, owns and works a hazelnut orchard in the Umpqua area. “I would not have had the career opportunities if not for the leadership skills and the technical aspects of agriculture that FFA taught me.

“I learned as much in high school through FFA competing in contests as I did in advance classes at the university,” she added.

Miller’s career included working for Shell Oil in its agriculture division, for Dow Chemical in its public affairs global division and for Dow AgroSciences. She was also executive director of Western Agricultural Chemicals Association and was a presidential appointee to the Environmental Protection Agency for Region 10, which includes Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Alaska.

She serves on several company boards, both locally and nationally.

Her past 20 years with FFA have included being a member of the National FFA Foundation board for the last seven years. She chaired the board for one year.

Miller helped establish the Individual Giving Council that is part of the national foundation.

“That council has put more emphasis on reaching back to FFA alumni and to other supporters and sponsors for contributions,” Miller explained. “...Most of the contributions to FFA had come from corporations, small and large, like 85 percent. Now we’re starting to move in the direction of seeking contributions from individuals.”

At the end of this year, Miller will be stepping down from the national board.

“I’m very surprised,” she said of being recognized with the VIP Citation honor. “It’s a bit of a capstone and a culmination of having reconnected with FFA over the last 20 years. I’ve put a lot of effort back into the organization.”

Miller, however, plans to continue to support FFA by helping the Oregon FFA Foundation with its fundraising.

The National FFA Organization has about 630,000 members.

A news release from the national office credited Miller with going “the extra mile” for FFA.

“Outstanding dedicated people like you deserve most of the credit for changing the lives of these young people,” Steve Brown, National FFA adviser and board chairman, wrote in a statement to Miller. “It is an honor to publicly recognize your outstanding support of our youth and agricultural education.”

Kuna FFA auction raises over $45,000 Wed, 5 Oct 2016 16:33:47 -0400 Savannah StroebelKuna FFA Reporter On Sept. 26 the Kuna, Idaho, FFA hosted their annual Alumni Scholarship Auction.

Local members, businesses, family and friends throughout the valley gathered together to support the Kuna FFA Chapter.

The auction proceeds go toward college scholarships, Washington Leadership Conference scholarships, Greenhand FFA scholarships, leadership conference travel, career development event travel, national FFA convention travel and classroom technology. This year’s Alumni Scholarship Auction brought in over $45,000.

The evening started off with a pork dinner served to all the guests. The silent auction began at 6 p.m. where people were able to purchase items donated by local businesses and families. They were also able to purchase an FFA member’s labor for three hours as a thank you for helping support the chapter.

The chapter also held an online auction that lasted until Thursday, Sept. 29.

At 7 p.m. the live auction began. Senior FFA members presented items such as a cattle chute built by the students, a trailer built by the students, a project heifer and a gun safe.

There is a specific part of the live auction called Raise The Paddle in which the proceeds raised go only towards sending students to the Washington Leadership Conference next summer. This year, Raise the Paddle brought in $17,450 donated by 76 people that will go directly toward WLC scholarship money for the students.

The Alumni Scholarship Auction proceeds promote leadership and personal development of Kuna FFA members. The auction is a great way to support the students and help them become the future leaders of the community.

The Kuna FFA Chapter is overwhelmingly grateful for all the support they receive throughout the year, especially at their auction. They would like to thank all those who donated items, 2016 auction buyers, and everyone who came out to support and help put the auction on.

Fair contest keeps youngsters involved in local beef industry Mon, 26 Sep 2016 12:13:12 -0400 Tim Hearden RED BLUFF, Calif. — FFA member Kegan Richards got a chance last weekend to show his skills at breeding and raising market-ready steers.

Richards took first in the Tehama District Fair’s annual Producers’ Market Beef contest sponsored by the Tehama County Cattlemen’s Association, which judges calves and steers purchased from producers within the county.

Richards is himself a producer, having bought two cows and bred and raised his own fair entries for the past several years. He also won the local producers’ contest two years ago.

“I think it’s awesome because it gives kids with steers from Tehama County a chance to show what they did and it shows that Tehama County can produce really good steers,” said Richards, 18, who won a $250 first prize.

Richards was one of about a dozen competitors in the contest. Among the other youngsters, Amy Stroing of Red Bluff was second and won $150, Melissa Stroing of Red Bluff took third and won $50, Hannah Pritchard of Corning placed fourth, and Charleigh Merkley was fifth.

The entrants also had a chance to win a belt buckle, as judges interviewed them and considered the overall quality of their projects and their breeding programs.

In all, 322 youngsters entered animals at the 96th annual Tehama fair in Red Bluff, up slightly from last year, livestock coordinator Carrie Perea said. The cattlemen also gave money to students whose steers finished near the bottom in prices in the auction.

The group has been sponsoring the local producer contest for about a decade as a way to keep youngsters involved in the industry, said cattle producer Matt Pritchard, an agriculture teacher and FFA leader at Red Bluff High School.

“The youth is where we have to start,” Pritchard said. “If we don’t have the youth coming up ... we’re in big trouble.”

Chelan FFA Horse Evaluation CDE team state champions Tue, 20 Sep 2016 11:30:52 -0400 Friday, Sept. 16, was a good day to be a Chelan FFA member.

Thirty-four members loaded up in the gray light just before dawn and headed for Othello, Wash., and the Adams County Fair. Their plan was to compete in the judging Career Development Events and to represent their chapter well.

And they did performing well in both the Livestock and Dairy Evaluation CDEs.

But when all the arena dust from the placing classes had settled, all the oral reasons taken, identification tests scored, and team scenario presentations made, the Chelan FFA Horse Evaluation CDE team were state champions and had punched their ticket to the National Horse CDE in Indianapolis, Ind., next month.

The victory marked the fourth time the Chelan FFA has attended the big dance in horse evaluation in the last 12 years.

Katie Gleasman placed second individually and was joined on the team by Ashley Oswald, Stephanie Olivera, Allie Barnes, and Dianna Sanchez.

Team members now prepare to compete at the National FFA Horse CDE, which involves judging four halter classes from Quarter Horse, Paint, Appaloosa, Confirmation Hunters, Arabian, American Saddlebred and Morgan Horses.

They then will judge four performance classes from Western Horsemanship, Western Pleasure, Western Riding, Reining, Trail, English Pleasure (Saddle Seat), Hunter under saddle, Hunt Seat Equitation and Hunter Hack.

Contestants will then give four sets of oral reasons, two on Halter and two on Performance classes. Students will also have to identify 10 colors/breeds/markings and 10 tack or equipment items.

Then as a team they will complete four practicums that may include but are not limited to hay/feed selection, shoeing equipment for a given job, tacking up a horse, taking vital signs, administering injections or deworming.

Team activity also includes a scenario discussion then presentation concerning nutrition, management, anatomy, marketing or animal welfare.

Students will travel the week of Oct. 16-23.

Meridian FFA showcases SAEs at Western Idaho Fair Tue, 20 Sep 2016 12:45:23 -0400 Loretta LacyMeridian FFA Reporter The Western Idaho Fair in Boise gives the Meridian FFA chapter a chance to show and sell the livestock Supervised Agricultural Experiences — SAEs — they’ve been working with for the past several months.

Showing isn’t the only option at the fair; it also holds many other agricultural competitions such as tractor driving, livestock judging and dairy judging.

This fair is Ada County’s designated fair. Our chapter was also fortunate to be invited to show at the Canyon County Fair earlier in the summer.

Unlike Canyon County Fair, horses are added into the mix of large animals eligible to show through the Meridian FFA Chapter. The Western Idaho Fair started on Aug. 19 and ended on Aug. 28. While the fair lasts 11 days, the 4-H/FFA Livestock and Horse Show took place from Aug. 18 until Aug. 23. The Meridian FFA Chapter was represented by 42 showmen this year.

The following Meridian members showed horses:

•Ashlyn Schiers: Grand Champion English FFA Hi Point, Grand Champion Gymkhana FFA Hi Point, Grand Champion Ranch Horse FFA, Grand Quarter Horse Breed Award, Reserve Champion FFA Horse Showman, and Reserve Western FFA Hi Point.

• Loretta Lacy: Grand Champion Buckskin Breed Award and Reserve Gymkhana FFA Hi Point.

• Lauren Barker: Reserve English FFA Hi Point and Reserve Champion Ranch Horse FFA.

• Rachel Mansfield: Reserve Arabian Breed Award.

• Alexa Phillips.

• Amy Saleen.

• Mallie Miller.

The following members showed sheep:

• Zach Ball: Reserve Champion Lamb.

• Cody Ball: Reserve FFA Sheep Showman.

• Cameron King: FFA Run-off Showman.

• Dani Turnbough: FFA Run-off Showman.

• Dalton Turnbough: FFA Run-off Showman.

• Trinity Martin.

• Lauren Jackson.

• Kaitlin Muniz.

• Mollie Hiscox.

• Anna Jackson.

• Shelby Peugh.

• Ashton Shaul.

• Caydan Stirm.

• Kaitlin Steppe.

• Brock Shurtz.

• Tyson Hernandez.

• Blake Hilderbrand.

The following members showed swine:

• Ashlee Bowen: 3rd in FFA Swine Showmanship.

• Zach Kerby.

• Ashley Kerby.

• Maddie Bennett.

• Ryan Bennett.

Kate Johnson placed second in her Beef Market class.

The following members showed pygmy goats:

• Emily Pile: Grand Champion FFA Showman.

• Kiara Wetzel: Grand Champion Wether and Reserve Champion FFA Showman.

The following members showed dairy cattle:

• Zach Phillips: Grand Champion FFA Dairy Showman, Grand Champion Holstein & Sr. Cow.

• Siera Horton: Reserve Champion FFA Dairy Showman.

• Jordyn Bettencourt: 3rd in FFA Showmanship and Reserve Champion Jr. Cow.

• Mollie Hiscox.

• Kayla Schubert.

• Cameron King.

• Maddie Bennett.

• Ashton Shaul.

Makayla Buck showed meat goats.

Maddie Bennett — Grand Champion FFA Showman and Grand Champion Senior Nubian — and Ellie Higgins — Reserve Champion FFA Showman and Grand Champion Jr. Nubian — showed dairy goats.

Mikey Eilers won 1st place and Blake Hilderbrand was 2nd in tractor driving.

The following Meridian FFA members all made it to Large Animal Round Robin by being either grand or reserve champion showman in their animal areas through FFA: Zach Ball, Ellie Higgins, Ashlyn Schiers, Zach Phillips, Siera Horton, and Maddie Bennett.

Western Idaho Fair also features a 4-H/FFA Livestock and Dairy Judging Contest using showman’s animals. From Meridian FFA, Cameron King was 3rd in Livestock and Zach Phillips was 4th. For the Dairy portion of the contest, Siera Horton was 2nd and Jordyn Bettencourt was 3rd.

Members of our chapter also spend time preparing and running the Meridian FFA concessions fair booth. At this booth we sell drinks, sno-cones and some small food items during the entire week of the fair. This booth is a large fundraiser for our chapter. The money made here goes to helping members pay for attendance at state and national events.

It takes a large number of dedicated members to run this successfully. Thank you to all who donated their time to volunteer at the booth, as well as those fair competitors and spectators who supported our fundraising goals by making purchases.

The Meridian FFA Chapter would like to thank the 4-H/FFA Junior Livestock Co-Superintendents Dana Kolstad and Jack Blattner.

We also owe a huge thank you to all of the department supervisors of Meridian FFA showmen at this fair: Shane Stevenson and Joe Blackstock (Beef), Rhiannon Blum, Shawn Dygert and Michelle Ball (Dairy Cattle), Kim Moore and Ken Feaster-Eytchison (Dairy/Pack Goats), Lorraine Wikoff and Renee Peugh (Meat Goats), Paulette Henderson, Barb Recla, Brett Spencer and Liz Russell (Horse), Sandy Stevenson and Jessica Higher (Sheep), Jerry Berheim, Travis Edwards, Kelsey Bly (Swine) Dan Cecil (Pygmy Goat), Alan Heikkila (Tractor Driving), Brain Twait, Trish Stokes and Steve Wilder (Livestock Judging Contest), Leroy and Quyann Kerby (Large Animal Round Robin), as well as the Expo Idaho Board of Directors: Dave Moore, Steve Russell, Gary Johnson, Bob Batista, Bobbie Nida, Lonna Breshears, Hans Brujin and Kasie Morrison for continuing to make Western Idaho Fair a success.

Showmen who sold animals at the 4-H/FFA Market Sale this year would like to publicly thank Design Flooring, The Berheims, Les Schwab, and Western Heating and Air for being large buyers of our members’ animals at auction this year.

These buyers’ dollars often fund a member’s purchase of their next project animal, which allows that student to continue to develop their premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through FFA.

Chelan FFA has a good showing at county fair Tue, 20 Sep 2016 11:50:11 -0400 The Chelan FFA continued their winning ways, when they packed up and headed out for Cashmere, Wash., and the 2016 Edition of the Chelan County Fair.

Members brought with them quarter horses, market hogs, market lambs, meat goats, breeding goats and still life exhibits.

Chelan members picked up right where they left off in Waterville at the NCW District Fair.

Aislinn Davis got things going with the Reserve Champion Meat Goat and Dane Schwartz made it two in row with the Reserve Champion Market Hog.

Dianna Sanchez added the Reserve Champion Rosette for Breeding Goats.

Carlos Vargas added to the ribbon total with a Reserve Champion in Meat Goat Rate of Gain.

Zoee Stamps kept things rolling right along in the horse barn earning Grand Champion Rosettes in Horse Fitting and Showing, Halter, Western Equitation, Trail, and Western Pleasure.

In the still life barn things continued to go in Chelan’s favor with Angel Blanco who had the Grand Champion Vegetable and Dianna Sanchez was the Reserve Champion.

Mario Bravo had both the Grand and Reserve Champion Fruit exhibits.

Dianna Sanchez had the Grand Champion Eggs and Grand Champion Craft Project.

Angel Blanco had the Grand Champion Photography and Sarah Goyne was Reserve Champion.

Yesina Saucedo had the Grand Champion Ag Mech Utility Skill exhibit and Wyatt Habich was Reserve Champion.

Kenny Reeves had both the Grand and Reserve Champion Educational Display-Wildlife Exhibit.

Ebelia Guitierrez and Tyler Higgins had the Grand and Reserve Champion Agronomy plant mount exhibit.

Mario Bravo was the Overall Horticulture Grand Champion aned Angel Blanco was reserve.

On Friday Fitting and Showing Day in the barns, Chelan did well again.

Jessie Oules was the Reserve Champion Sheep Showman, 7 of the 9 FFA members in the Swine Final Drive were Chelan FFA Hog Showman with Dane Schwartz winning Grand and Kenny Reeves earning Reserve.

Chelan was well represented in the Meat Goat Final Drive with 7 of 8 coming from Chelan with Michael Tutino winning Grand and Ashley Oswald winning Reserve. Six of the 9 FFA members in the Round Robin were Chelan FFA members and Jessie Oules came out the Reserve all around showman for the entire fair.

In Career Development Events members placed 1st in Poultry Judging with Stephanie Olivera 1st and Carlos Vargas and Ashley Oswald 9th and 10th individually.

Chelan Placed 2nd in Tractors with Michael Tutino 2nd, Jake Horlebien 5th, and Logan Oules 9th.

A second place finish was also won in Livestock with Matt Fitzpatrick 3rd, Ashley Oswald 4th, Stephanie Olivera 5th, and Dane Schwartz 5th.

Chelan placed 4th in Horse Judging with Allie Barnes 10th. And rounded things out with a 4th Place finish in Produce Judging and earning a 2nd place banner in the Sweepstakes.

All in all an outstanding fair season the Chelan FFA. They will compete in the State Horse CDE on Friday, Sept. 16, and then State Tractors and State Potato Grading on Nov. 16 and Apple Judging starts in mid-November as well with State Apples finishing up the first of December.

Washington FFA Foundation hires full-time director Thu, 15 Sep 2016 17:24:52 -0400 Matw Weaver Marissa Dunn is the new executive director of the Washington State FFA Foundation, a position that has been expanded to become full-time.

“FFA makes such a positive difference in the lives of its members regarding their personal leadership development and their future career success,” said Dunn. “One of our main objectives is to connect agriculture businesses and organizations with individuals in Washington FFA to create great opportunities.”

The foundation also places a priority on supporting agricultural teachers, Dunn said.

Dunn lives on a farm in Central Washington with her husband and daughter, raising apples, pears, hay and cattle. She grew up in Spokane County, showing sheep and competing at the state convention all four years of high school.

She was a state FFA officer and a national officer candidate. After high school, she worked a legislative session in Olympia for the Washington State Grange.

“The FFA is the organization that personally gave me such remarkable opportunities to learn, travel and develop leadership skills,” she said. “I want this organization to be very successful, and I want FFA to continue to make a difference in the lives of students across the state — just like it did for me.”

Dunn replaces Stewart Padelford, who held the position on a part-time basis for 6 1/2 years.

The foundation first began in the 1970s, but had been inactive for years, Padelford said.

Padelford said he wanted to get the foundation to the point that the position could be full-time.

“We were trying to re-energize it, and I think we’ve accomplished that,” he said.

Padelford’s last day was July 30, but he has been helping with the transition.

“I think she has all the necessary tools and skills to make the foundation grow,” he said.

Padelford is proudest of emphasizing career awareness for FFA members, building connections between FFA and the industry and developing a three-day program in the summer that gives students the opportunity to meet with ag leaders.

Dunn said financial support and volunteers are the foundation’s biggest needs for the future. Corporate and individual investments help continue leadership programs, state career development events and to support members and state officers travel to various events, including nationals, and purchase FFA jackets for members who can’t afford them.

“If anyone has the time and passion to help his or her local chapter, it makes a tremendous difference,” she said. “Anyone who can be available to help with career development events, fairs, scholarship applications, the state convention, leadership trainings, travel and/or additional resources, we’d certainly love to connect with them.”


Contact Dunn at

Five Washington FFA chapters are national award finalists Tue, 13 Sep 2016 14:00:27 -0400 Matw Weaver Five Washington State FFA programs are finalists for national FFA awards, and a state adviser says it’s a sign of creativity and innovation from student members.

The Elma and Goldendale FFA chapters are national finalists for the National FFA Organization’s 2016 Model of Innovation awards for student development for logging rodeo and non-traditional agriculture career programs, respectively.

The Omak chapter is a finalist for the national Model of Innovation award for chapter development for its officer mascot’s social media campaign.

The Ephrata chapter is a finalist for the national Model of Innovation community development award for highway crop signs with the Quincy Rotary.

The Yelm chapter is a finalist for the Model of Excellence award.

“I think it’s really significant when you look at the size and scope of our national organization,” said Rebecca Wallace, Washington FFA adviser and agricultural education program supervisor in the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. “Having one of the top 10 chapters in the nation as an overall program means they’re one of the best. That’s huge.”

Every chapter in good standing in the nation is eligible for such recognition, Wallace said, noting there are more than 7,000 chapters.

The national organization is looking for programs that are “new, different, exciting – you really have to be quite innovative,” Wallace said.

Wallace believes it’s the first time Washington has had this much recognition in one year.

“It speaks to the good works being done in the communities across the state, the strong leadership and dedication from our agricultural educators and the creativity and innovation that our students have when they’re putting together their program activities,” she said.

Students plan the activities, Wallace said.

“Statistically, to have five finalists out of one state across the nation being recognized, I think that speaks volumes,” Wallace said.

The programs also benefit from the participation of local communities, Wallace said.

“Most certainly, the programs that have the most success means they’re really drilled in to their local industry partners,” she said.

Chelan FFA members have big year at district fair Wed, 31 Aug 2016 17:43:39 -0400 Twenty-five Chelan FFA members loaded up their animals and headed up to Waterville for the NCW District Fair Aug. 24-28.

They picked up right where they left off last spring in terms of successful competition.

On Thursday all the still life is judged and the market animals are judged on type.

In the Sheep Barn, Jessie Oules kept her streak of four straight years in a row with the Grand Champion Market Lamb at the NCW Fair. Stephanie Olivera and Ella Tschetter also received Blue ribbons for their lambs.

In the Goat Barn, Michael Tutino had the Grand Champion Meat Goat. Aislinn Davis, Carlos Vargas, Henry Armstrong, Santiago Jimenez, Dianna Sanchez, Dylan Bufunda and Ashley Oswald all received blue ribbons for their meat goats. Dianna Sanchez also exhibited the Grand Champion 3-year-old Boer Doe.

In the Swine Barn, Dane Schwartz brought both the Grand and Reserve Champion Market Hogs to fair the first time that this has been done in recent memory. Katie Gleasman, Matt Fitzpatrick, Kenny Reeves, Owen Oules, Wyatt Dietrich, Dylan Bufunda, Allie Barnes, Sam Austin, Devin Holden, Dawson Roberts, Angel Blanco, and Emily Mudd all received blue ribbons and Darby Dietrich a red. Macaela LaPorte had the third place market steer in the Beef Barn.

Zoee Stamps had a tremendous couple days in the Horse barn, earning Grand Champion Rosettes for Horse Fitting and Showing, Western Pleasure, Halter Horse, and Reserve Grand Champion in Western Equitation.

On Friday Jessie Oules was the Sheep Fitting and Showing Champion and ended up the Reserve Champion Overall Showman in the round robin.

In the Still Life Barn, Michael Tutino was the Reserve Grand Champion Ag Mechanics Large Project. Wyatt Habich was the Grand Champion Ag Mechanics Utility Skills and Santiago Jimenez won the Reserve Rosette. Tyler Higgins was the Grand Champion Agronomy Plant Mount and Ebelia Gutierrez was Reserve Champion. Dianna Sanchez had the Grand Champion Vegetable for her Red Cabbage entry and Angel Blanco was Reserve with his Red Chili Peppers. Dianna also had the Grand Champion Fruit with her plate of Gala Apples and Stephanie Olivera won Reserve for her plate of Honeycrisp.

Angel Blanco was the Overall Horticulture Champion and Dianna Sanchez was the Overall Horticulture Reserve Champion. Stephanie Olivera had the Grand Champion FFA Photography exhibit and Dianna Sanchez was Reserve Champion.

In Career Development Events, the Chelan Chapter brought home four banners in four events. They earned a first place finish in Produce Judging with Stephanie Olivera finishing third, Thomas Armstrong fourth, and Matt Fitzpatrick eighth individually. They brought home a second place Banner in Livestock with Dawson Roberts, Dane Schwartz, and Owen Oules placing third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.

Micheal Tutino was the first place individual in the tractor driving CDE and earned the third place banner. And the Horse CDE team also earned a third place banner with Stephanie Olivera seventh, Allie Barnes eighth, and Katie Gleasman 10th individually.

Members will rest for a week, and then load up and head out to the Chelan County Fair Sept. 7-11 in Cashmere.

Meridian FFA ‘Learns to Do, Does to Learn and Earns to Live’ at Canyon County Fair Fri, 26 Aug 2016 14:51:19 -0400 Loretta LacyMeridian FFA Reporter Starting on July 26, the Canyon County Fair was held at the Caldwell, Idaho, fairgrounds.

Canyon County Fair lasted for six days and ended on July 31. This fair gives Meridian FFA members the chance to show and sell the livestock they’ve been raising and working with as their Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs) for the past year. We had 33 members show livestock at this fair this year.

The following members showed swine:

• Ashlee Bowen

• Zack Davis (3rd in FFA Swine Showmanship)

The following members showed dairy heifers:

• Kristin Nesbitt (Grand Champion FFA Dairy Showman and Grand Champion FFA Round Robin)

• Sierra Horton (Reserve Champion FFA Dairy Showman and Reserve Grand Champion Jr. Jersey Heifer)

• Mollie Hiscox

• Cameron King

• Ashton Shaul

• Jordyn Bettencourt

• Kayla Shubert

The following members showed dairy goats:

• Maddie Bennett (Grand Champion FFA Goat Showman)

• Kaitlyn Steppe

The following members showed meat goats:

• Maddie Bennett (4th in FFA Goat Showmanship)

• Ryan Bennett

Elise Campbell placed first in her beef cattle feeder class.

The following members showed market lambs:

• Hannah Smith (Reserve Champion FFA Sheep Showman; Reserve Champion Natural Lamb)

• Cody Ball (3rd in FFA Sheep Showmanship)

• Kaitlyn Steppe (4th in FFA Sheep Showmanship)

• Loretta Lacy (5th in FFA Sheep Showmanship)

• Mollie Hiscox

• William Stokes

• Kaitlyn Muniz

• Karlyn Roberts

• Kali Simitzes

• Summer Miller

• Mallie Miller

• Joe Wieting

• Ashton Shaul

• Cameron King

• Dani Turnbough

• Zach Ball

• Chloe Varley

• Katelyn Putizer

• Caydan Stirm

• Blake Hildebrand

• Tyson Hernandez

• Brock Shurtz

The following members also showed breeding lambs:

• Hannah Smith

• Joe Wieting

• Kaitlyn Steppe

The Meridian FFA Chapter would like to thank Canyon County Exhibits Supervisor Diana Sinner, and Canyon County Fair Director Rosalie Cope for the time and hard work they put in to make this year’s fair a success.

Meridian FFA would also like to thank the following major buyers of Meridian FFA market animals at the Canyon County 4-H/FFA Market Sale: Les Schwab, Albertsons, Forage Genetics, Dan Sample, D&B Supply, Custom Butcher, and Sunny and Justin Christensen Farms.

Anyone who supports an FFA member’s SAE is helping that individual gain invaluable skills in time management, record keeping and financial independence. Meridian FFA thanks all the parents, advisors and buyers who helped these 33 members gain experience in agricultural entrepreneurship.

Six Meridian FFA members ‘scramble’ to win $1,000 at Snake River Stampede Fri, 12 Aug 2016 17:40:43 -0400 Loretta LacyMeridian FFA Chapter Reporter The Snake River Stampede Calf Scramble was held during the first and last night of the Snake River Stampede Rodeo.

During both of those nights, 20 high school students were let into the arena with 10 calves. The goal for these students was to catch and put a halter on a calf. If they catch a calf, they are each awarded $1,000 to purchase a 2016 beef heifer calf.

They must then raise the heifer for a year and show it at the Snake River Calf Scramble Beef Show the following summer. After the show, they then have the option to breed the heifer or sell it.

Six Meridian FFA members participated in the Calf Scramble during the Tuesday and Saturday performances that caught calves. Those members were Zack Davis, Cameron King, Mollie Hiscox, Joe Wieting, Siera Horton and Kayla Shubert.

Meridian FFA members Trace Beaucannon and Jordan Bettencourt participated in the Calf Scramble but did not catch calves.

Large livestock animals are expensive to purchase; the Calf Scramble gives students the opportunity to experience raising and showing a beef heifer without a high start-up expense.

Without this program, many of the competing students would struggle to cover the initial cost of buying such an animal.

Meridian FFA would like to thank the Snake River Stampede Calf Scramble Committee for putting on the event, sponsoring the cash awards and for inviting our members to compete.

14 Meridian FFA members attend Washington Leadership Conference Thu, 21 Jul 2016 14:52:56 -0400 Loretta LacyMeridian FFA Reporter Fourteen Meridian FFA members got the chance to attend the Washington Leadership Conference from June 27 until July 3.

They were Loretta Lacy, Mollie Hiscox, Lauren Barker, Kyle Schmit, Cameron King, Ashton Shaul, Delaney Vatcher, Kaitlin Muniz, Rachel Mansfield, Ellie Higgins, Kiara Wetzel, Lauren Jackson, and Kate Johnson and were accompanied by two advisors, Miss Kya Vines and Mrs. Trish Stokes.

The Washington Leadership Conference is a conference that FFA members from all 50 states can attend. It is held in Washington, D.C. This conference lasts a week, and eight weeks are offered each summer. All attendees stayed in the Omni Shoreham Hotel, where the conference sessions were held this year.

During our week of WLC, 348 FFA members from around the nation attended the conference. Members can only attend this conference once. Most attendees are going into their junior or senior year in high school.

Within the 348 members, we were split into Community Groups consisting of an average of 26 members. WLC puts an emphasis on leadership and serving your community. This conference focused on having each member create a “Living to Serve Plan” to help our community at home. We spent most of our community group meetings creating, organizing and planning.

In our large group meeting, consisting of all the attendees, we did lots of fun, but thought-provoking activities. We talked a lot about hunger in our communities and what we can do to help. On the last day of the conference, we made 6,200 macaroni-and-cheese bags for food shelters around the D.C. area through an organization called Meals for Hope.

Half of the conference consisted of sessions. For the other half, we spent it touring D.C. WLC attendees were privileged to visit the following:

• Holocaust Museum.

• Jefferson Memorial.

• JFK Memorial.

• Korean War Memorial.

• Lincoln Memorial.

• Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

• National Archives, where we saw the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

• National Zoo.

• Natural History Museum.

• Washington Monument.

• White House.

• World War II Memorial.

• U.S. Capitol, where we visited Senator James Risch’s office.

Members from our chapter that attended this trip owe a great deal of gratitude to the Meridian FFA Alumni, Ada County Farm Bureau, Meridian Dairy Board, Meridian FFA Chapter and Dave and Angie Daniels for their financial donations to reduce the cost of our trip..

With their help, the price of the trip per student was lowered from $1,460 to $650. All 14 of us are extremely thankful to have attended this great program at less than half the original cost.

Farm Day introduces Pendleton eighth-graders to FFA Tue, 31 May 2016 10:50:14 -0400 George PlavenEO Media Group There’s more to FFA than just showing animals. The organization features a broad and diverse range of activities, from diesel mechanics to gardening to cooking.

Members of the Pendleton FFA Chapter presented just a few of the possibilities May 27 to eighth-graders from Sunridge Middle School, giving them an up close and personal look at all FFA has to offer. Students cycled through each of five stations at the chapter’s lamb lab, where they had the chance to plant pumpkins, pet a horse, watch a welding demonstration and even try their hand at flying an agriculture drone.

Jake Szumski, a junior at Pendleton High School and FFA chapter president, said the goal was not only to show what opportunities are available, but how FFA can help students develop new skills for college and careers.

“It really is a learning opportunity for the rest of your life,” Szumski said. “There’s a lot of career development where you can experience things you wouldn’t otherwise do.”

The Pendleton FFA Chapter has approximately 50 active and 80 non-active members, said Hallie Porter, sophomore and chapter secretary.

“To be in FFA, you don’t have to show animals. There’s so many options,” Porter said. “You can really do any competition, and still feel welcome in FFA.”

More than 20 chapter members participated at the State FFA Convention in Corvallis, and Seely Daniels, PHS agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, said she hopes to take their officers to the National Convention and Expo next October in Indianapolis.

Daniels said they welcomed about 200 eighth-graders on Friday.

“The kids just loved it,” she said. “They are so much fun to work with.”

Meridian FFA holds 76th annual banquet Mon, 16 May 2016 12:39:49 -0400 Loretta LacyMeridian FFA Reporter The Meridian, Idaho, FFA chapter banquet is held every spring to award our members for all the hard work they did in the past year.

All members and family are invited to join us for a night of food, installing new officers and giving awards and scholarships.

This banquet is an annual tradition for our chapter. This year, the banquet was held on May 2 at the West Ada District Service Center. In the past we have held the banquet at Meridian High School, but due to the high attendance in the past and the construction at the school this year, we moved to a larger location.

Freshmen that have worked hard in class, in their SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) and in FFA this year were awarded the Star Greenhand. Those students were: Cassidey Plum, Sydney Plum, Kayla Shubert, and Anna Jackson.

Sophomores that have also worked hard in those same aspects were awarded the Outstanding 2nd Year Member award. The students that received this award were: Ashton Shaul, Ellie Higgins, Kaitlin Johnson, and Mollie Hiscox.

Juniors that have consistently worked hard in the classroom, in their SAE and were active members of the chapter were awarded the Outstanding 3rd Year Member. Those juniors were: Loretta Lacy, Kyle Schmit, Mallie Miller, Alexa Phillips, and Ashlyn Schiers.

Many adults have been instrumental to the success of our chapter in the last several years. To thank them for their hard work, we awarded them with an Honorary Chapter Degree. Those incredible adults were: Mr. Mark Stokes, Mr. Paul Adams, Mr. Quentin and Mrs. Julie Nesbitt, Ms. Dena Pengilly, Mr. Frank Thomason, Ms. Shauna Murray, Ms. Melissa Knueven, and Miss Michelle Ball.

Mark Stokes was an active member in the Meridian FFA Chapter and is now the current Meridian FFA Alumni President. Paul Adams has been the lead auctioneer at the Meridian FFA Alumni Chapter’s Scholarship Auction for the past four years. Paul has helped double the income of our auction.

Quentin and Julie Nesbitt are the parents of this year’s chapter president, Kristin. Quentin and Julie have both donated much time and energy to helping out our alumni chapter and FFA Scholarship Auction.

Dena Pengilly has been instrumental with the West Ada Professional Technical programs. She has spent many hours serving our school district and helping out many students.

Frank Thomason produces a 20-page newspaper by himself. He always makes sure to include the new articles and photos of the Meridian Chapter members and really helps the community stay in touch with our chapter.

Shauna Murray has been a school counselor for many years and has helped many of our chapter members. Shauna was also named this year’s district Counselor of the Year.

Melissa Knueven is an administrator at Rocky Mountain High School. She is a regular attendee of the chapter’s events and has been continually supportive of the FFA members at her school.

Michelle Ball is a former member of Kuna FFA and served as a previous Idaho State Officer. She has just finished her first year as an agriculture teacher and Meridian FFA Advisor.

Proficiency awards are given to members with exceptional SAE projects. This year the chapter recognized the following members for their work in their SAEs:

Small Animal: Kenzie Babcock, Caitlin Martin, Ellie Higgins and Alexa Phillips

Beef: Ashton Shaul

Dairy: Mallie Miller

Horse: Ashlyn Schiers, Allison Iverson, and Loretta Lacy

Diversified Livestock: Maddie Bennett

Many senior scholarships were also awarded this evening:

The Rick Dirksen, John & Marty Mundt Scholarship ($1,000 renewable) was awarded to Andrew Heikkila.

The Fred Beckman Good Citizen Award ($500) was given to Mackenzie Brown.

The Ada County Farm Bureau Scholarship ($1,000 renewable) was awarded to Kristin Nesbitt.

The Charlie Stevens Scholarship was also awarded to Kristin Nesbitt.

The Meridian FFA Alumni awarded William Stokes, Maddie Boyd, Jessica Kohntopp, Kristin Nesbitt, Clayton Christensen, Andrew Heikkila, and Lance Eaton.

The Gene and Marge Muller Scholarship was awarded to Kristin Nesbitt.

Senior awards were given to top members who will be graduating this year to recognize them for their hard work and dedication to the chapter over the past four years. Those awards were:

Outstanding FFA Chairman: Amanda Adams

Most Improved FFA Member: Jessica Kohntopp

FFA Senior Achievement Award: William Stokes

Outstanding FFA Member: Andrew Heikkila

Outstanding Shop Student: Cody Aden

Star Chapter Agribusiness Degree Award: Clayton Christensen

Star Chapter Farmer Degree Award: Maddie Bennett

Outstanding Senior FFA Leadership Award: Kristin Nesbitt

At the banquet we also installed our new chapter officer team. For 2016-2017, our constitutional officers are: Kyle Schmit as president, Mallie Miller as vice president, Ashlyn Schiers as secretary, Alexa Phillips as treasurer, Loretta Lacy as reporter and Ashton Shaul as sentinel.

Our other officers for this year are: Joe Wieting as alumni representative; Ellie Higgins as yearbook chief; Sydney Plum, Kiara Wetzel, and Kate Johnson as yearbook staff; Zach Phillips, Mollie Hiscox, Isaac Livesay and Kaitlin Muniz as representatives; and Cassidey Plum as parliamentarian.

The Meridian FFA Chapter would like to thank the West Ada District Service Center for letting us hold our banquet there this year.

We also would like to thank Washington Trust Bank, Investment Resources, Dynamite Marketing, C.F.I. Investments, Norco Inc., D.L. Evans Bank-Meridian Branch, Columbia Bank-Canyon County BBC, Western States Equipment and the Meridian FFA Alumni for all the financial support they have given us in the past year. And for the incredible food that was served, we would like to thank Jessie Miller of Cross Country Catering. Thanks again to everyone who supported us this past year.

Cascade FFA receives Farm Credit grant to improve greenhouse Mon, 16 May 2016 11:18:27 -0400 Jan Jackson TURNER, Ore. — Cascade High School’s Agriculture Department moved into the final stage of their greenhouse restoration project recently, thanks to a $2,000 Northwest Farm Credit Services Rural Community Grant.

The money will be used to buy and install a new irrigation system.

A presentation was held in the greenhouse just before the FFA chapter’s annual Mother’s Day weekend plant sale.

Once the system is installed, the students will be able to incorporate new projects and grow plants they have not been able to grow before.

“The greenhouse was basically unusable when I came here 10 years ago,” FFA adviser Becky Bates said. “We did a complete renovation including leveling the floor and buying new tables. Now with separate irrigation systems including mister nozzles above all of the tables, we can grow plants by zone locations.”

The Cascade School District, Cascade FFA alumni, the Mid-Willamette Education Consortium and the Oregon Department of Education have also helped fund the greenhouse.

After touring the facility, Bob Boyle, Northwest Farm Credit Services senior vice president overseeing lending and grants, and Andrea Krahmer, young beginning-small farmer ag vision manager, presented the check.

Farm Credit has awarded 527 rural grants totaling more than $1 million since 2007.

“We so appreciate the NFCS grant,” Bates said. “It is exciting to know we can have a learning environment for my students that more closely matches current industry facilities.”

Once the greenhouse is fully functioning, the students will have hands-on skills that will be relevant in jobs they may have in the greenhouse and nursery industry.

“Everything for sale in the greenhouse is grown by the students,” Bates said of the Mothers Day sale. “Teachers, students and townspeople already line up just outside the door every year waiting to get in and buy them. Now we will be able to improve our quality and even grow more.”

For more information about the Cascade greenhouse program call Cascade High School at 503-749-8488 or email For more information on the next Farm Credit rural grant, visit

The deadline is June 1.

New Washington FFA officers represent all parts of state Mon, 16 May 2016 09:36:04 -0400 Matw Weaver PULLMAN, Wash. — The new Washington FFA state officers represent all parts of the state, organization leaders say.

The new officers are president Alyssa McGee of Sumner, vice president Tye Taylor of Prosser, secretary Corrina Davis of Ferndale, treasurer Megan Gould of Toutle Lake, reporter Drew Carlson of Stanwood and sentinel Luke Moore of Colton.

They were installed Saturday at the end of the 86th state convention in Pullman.

“I am so incredibly blessed, I could have never seen this coming in a million years,” McGee told the Capital Press. “I look back on my freshman year as that super-awkward, weird kid in the class. I was terrified of standing up for myself, terrified of saying anything and now I’m here with this opportunity to serve the best organization on the planet.”

McGee said she hopes to see the FFA grow as the agricultural industry faces many issues.

“As long as we are constantly progressing with open minds, we’re going to be able to accomplish a lot this year,” she said.

State adviser Rebecca Wallace said the election is overseen by teachers and industry representatives, but mostly by a student nominating committee, which selects the top 10 finalists for voting by the membership.

“The strength of the candidate pool this year was evident,” Wallace said. “I don’t think we could have lost whichever six were up there, but I really believe things happen for a reason, and I know the six who were elected are going to take on the task of leading our organization.”

The state officers will develop their strategic plan, mission and goals for the year, Wallace said.

The officers represent all regions of the state, she said.

“A lot of them have very strong (supervised agricultural experience) projects and backgrounds in traditional and nontraditional agriculture, and I think you’re going to see a diversity of views and diversity of locations coming together,” Wallace said. “I expect high energy. This is an extremely passionate and very experienced group.”

“Their hearts are in service and in growing FFA,” executive director Abbie DeMeerleer said.

She said the agricultural industry can expect to work with the new team.

“And, I would hope, get to mentor them and help them better understand the industry in Washington and the greater Pacific Northwest, so they can not only be advocates for agricultural education, but our industry as a whole,” DeMeerleer said.

McGee and Moore are U.S. presidential scholars for agricultural education under a federal program from the U.S. Department of Education, Wallace said.

Roughly 3,289 people attended the convention, according to the FFA.

Chelan FFA team does well at state livestock CDE Mon, 9 May 2016 10:11:51 -0400 The Chelan, Wash., FFA Livestock Career Development Event team did something that a team from Chelan hasn’t done since 1983 and that’s bring a piece of hardware back from the State FFA Livestock CDE.

The Washington State Livestock CDE was held in Spokane as part of the Spokane Jr. Livestock Show.

Members had to evaluate 4 classes of market animals Beef, Sheep, Swine and Meat Goats. They also evaluated three breeding classes of Gilts, Heifers, Ewes. Members then gave a set of oral reasons on the Market Hog Class, Market Lamb Class and Performance Heifers.

As a team they completed a Bull Selection Scenario using EPD data, a female keep/cull class with replacement ewes using production data, and a video marketing scenario using lots from Superior Livestock Auctions. In addition, all members took a written exam on livestock production.

The team earned an eighth-place finish that comes with a plaque and trip across the stage at State Convention.

Dane Schwartz capped off his senior CDE campaign with a fourth place individual finish. He was joined on the team by Stephanie Oliver who placed 31st, Amanda Reeve who placed 50th, Jesse Oules who placed 71st and Owen Oules.

There were 36 teams in the contest and 168 individuals.

Kuna FFA helps thousands of children learn about farming Thu, 5 May 2016 09:43:58 -0400 Sean Ellis KUNA, Idaho — About 4,000 first and second graders from throughout the Treasure Valley received a hands-on farming experience May 2-5 during Kuna High School’s annual agricultural expo.

The school’s FFA students organize the event and guide the children through a series of farm-related experiences, teaching them simple facts about farming.

“We try to educate them about what the agricultural industry does and give them an idea of what true production agriculture is,” said event co-chairman Eric Ball, an FFA student. “We want them to have a good experience with farming while they’re at that impressionable age.”

The kids get to see a wide variety of farm animals, including longhorn steers, dairy calves, horses, cow-calf pairs, baby chickens, sheep, pigs, goats, fish and bunnies.

They also watch videos and view displays that explain agriculture at a simple level and highlight its importance to Idaho and the nation.

They get to climb aboard large pieces of new farm equipment that local farm equipment dealers loan the expo for four days. Those companies also donate the tractors that pull the students around on a hay ride and local farmers provide the trailers.

“We get a lot of industry support for this event,” said Shawn Dygert, who teaches ag education classes at Kuna High School. “All it takes is a phone call and there is no hesitation.”

Kuna is surrounded by farm land but many of the youngsters are from other parts of the valley that aren’t, said ag expo co-chair and FFA student Makayla Berheim.

“A lot of these kids are from subdivisions or cities, so they never experience this before and have no idea about agriculture,” she said. “We want to help them ... have a good knowledge of agriculture and know the good sides of it and how it impacts our whole world.”

Dygert said the event is a valuable experience for FFA students as well.

“These high school kids have to learn agriculture well enough to teach these little kids,” he said. “It takes everything we talk about doing in the classroom and it forces them to actually do it.”

He said the expo brings out the best in some students.

“Some of the students that have been possibly a little less than motivated in the classroom, they get in this environment and they become really good at these different activities,” he said. “It provides a way for them to show talents they may not otherwise have a chance to show.”

Washington FFA members gear up for annual convention Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:47:54 -0400 Matw Weaver ROSALIA, Wash. — Rosalia High School sophomore Collin Pittmann’s hard work all comes down to this.

Pittmann will compete against other students from across the state in the prepared public speaking career development event at the Washington FFA state convention May 12-14 in Pullman, Wash.

He will speak about wolves in the state, including the problems they cause for livestock producers.

Pittmann devotes every weekend to working on his speech and finding new newspaper articles on the topic. He’s spent more than 30 hours on the speech, which is about seven minutes long.

“When I get to convention they’re also going to ask me questions, so I need to be informed on anything happening with wolves in the state,” he said.

Pittmann is one of more than 2,000 FFA members who will make their way to the annual convention on the Washington State University campus in Pullman, said Abbie DeMeerleer, executive director of the Washington FFA. About 400 advisers and chaperones and 300 guests are also pre-registered.

This year’s theme is “Come Together.”

DeMeerleer said FFA will announce a new record membership number at the convention.

“We’re still growing,” she said.

The event will include an expanded education expo, at which industry partners and FFA members can discuss career and education opportunities, and an educational program for elementary students, both introduced last year.

Keynote speakers will include barrel racer and motivational speaker Amberley Snyder, who continues to ride horses after being paralyzed from the waist down in an automobile accident; Judson Laipply, creator of the popular “Evolution of Dance” video on YouTube; and National FFA Western Region Vice President Sarah Draper.

DeMeerleer hopes FFA members will leave the keynote presentations “inspired, motivated and excited about what they can do.”

Past state officers will also be recognized during the May 14 evening session.

DeMeerleer aims to keep cultivating relationships with industry leaders by having state officers visit them, and having them attend career development events.

Rosalia’s Pittmann advanced to nationals last year in the creed career development event.

“You’re with a lot of like-minded people — they’re nervous, they want to make a difference in their local communities and FFA chapters,” he said. “They all want to do well. It’s a really exciting time for all FFA members.”

DeMeerleer recommends stopping by the Cougar Lounge at Beasley Coliseum before 5 p.m. each day to purchase tickets to attend sessions. They are $5.


New state officers bring humor, passion to California FFA Tue, 26 Apr 2016 16:41:05 -0400 Tim Hearden FRESNO, Calif. — California FFA’s newly elected state officer team promised the more than 5,000 students attending the organization’s state convention that they’ll put plenty of passion and energy into the coming year.

The slate of new officers announced April 26 includes the first-ever twins to serve together at the state level — President Andrew Skidmore and Secretary Amanda Skidmore, both from the small San Joaquin Valley town of Atwater.

During his election pitch to delegates, Andrew generated laughs — and a few gasps — by comparing his candidacy to the TV show, “The Bachelor.” He told the gathering that “just like those roses,” he may sometimes have a thorny side “but I’m beautiful.”

Amanda showed some humor, too, telling fellow members that doctors had said she would be a boy and her stubborn parents dubbed her “a man, duh.”

“I’ve been called a tomboy and a lady,” Amanda told more than 5,000 students in Fresno’s Selland Arena, adding that she would bring the best of both perspectives into her leadership role. “I will serve this organization with motivation, passion and determination.”

The Skidmore siblings are joined on the 2016-17 officers’ team by Vice President Lauren Millang of Woodland, Treasurer Sam Looper of Apple Valley, Reporter Conner Vernon of Nipomo and Sentinel Jace Neugebauer of McArthur. The students were among 81 applicants for state office, 37 of whom were given interviews and 12 chosen as finalists.

Looper also took a humorous approach to his April 25 election pitch, making light of what he called his “plus-size” jacket. He said his friends call him “Corn Fed” and that he’s “full of GMOs.”

“In the last four years, I’ve not only grown out of eight FFA jackets but I’ve grown as a leader,” Looper said to laughter and loud cheers.

The new officers were announced after each of the outgoing state officers had taken turns over the course of the April 21-26 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 Joelle Lewis of San Luis Obispo themed her address “environmental change,” noting that students’ “roots” help form their interests and beliefs but they’re capable of improving their own outlook.

“We may be products of our environment, but we have a responsibility … to choose who we are,” Lewis said. She added that supporters and detractors “don’t decide who you are — you do.”

Sydnie Sousa of Tulare, the outgoing vice president, urged fellow members to practice selflessness, noting that the virtue will help them in a sometimes thankless career of farming. She told of putting together boxes of clothes and other items for the FFA chapter in El Reno, Okla., which was devastated by a 2013 tornado, and later being approached and thanked at the national FFA convention in Louisville, Ky.

“Know the power of doing something for someone and expecting nothing in return,” Sousa said.

Lewis and Sousa were joined by their fellow 2015-2016 officers — Secretary Breanna Holbert of Lodi, Treasurer Trevor Autry of Nipomo, Reporter Danielle Diele of Merced and Sentinel Tim Truax of Turlock — in ceremonially retiring their trusty blue-and-gold jackets amid wild cheers and tearful embraces.

The conference also featured 2015-16 National FFA President Taylor McNeel of Vilonia, Ark., and 2015-16 national Secretary Nick Baker, now an agricultural communications major at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

In all, California has more than 76,000 FFA members in 315 chapters — a significant portion of the organization’s 610,240 members in 7,665 chapters nationwide, according to conference organizers.

CDFA’s Ross urges FFA members to think of the future Mon, 25 Apr 2016 16:54:28 -0400 Tim Hearden FRESNO, Calif. — State Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross told 5,000 FFA members here that California’s agriculture-related industries will need their energy and innovations in the challenging years to come.

Ross cited water shortages, food safety concerns and global population growth as problems that today’s students in FFA could someday help solve.

“Think about how you use your hand-held technology and your gaming technology,” Ross told a packed audience during the Monday morning session in Fresno’s Selland Arena. “Those are the very tools you may use for (assisting) the smart farm of the future.”

Ross also praised the FFA chapters for promoting the CDFA’s three-year-old agriculture-themed license plate program, which has generated nearly $500,000 for education. The department in January handed out $249,352 in the second round of grants from the CalAgPlate program, including $212,000 for FFA leadership and development programs.

“It’s going great, but one of the challenges of the special license plates program is they have to keep selling or the interest goes away,” Ross told the Capital Press after her speech. “The students’ energy (in promoting the plates) is really important for these ag programs. … It’s such an important way for people to know, ‘I’m making a contribution to ag education.’”

Ross’ appearance was among the highlights of the 88th annual California State FFA Leadership Conference, which continues through April 26. With the theme, “Electrify,” students in high school FFA programs throughout California converged to participate in contests, hear inspiring speakers, attend a career fair and take part in other activities.

Ross’ appearance excited members of the FFA’s state leadership team, including outgoing president Joelle Lewis of San Luis Obispo, who said she’s also met the secretary during visits to schools.

“I think having her come here and talk (about students’ potential for future leadership) makes a big difference in people’s minds,” Lewis said.

Ross has attended several state FFA conventions since becoming food and ag secretary in 2011.

She began her address by praising FFA member McKenzie Brazier of King City, Calif., who sang during one of the session’s talent segments.

“I would recommend her for ‘The Voice,’” Ross said to loud cheers. “Wouldn’t it be great if we had someone on ‘The Voice’ with a blue jacket? And then if somebody standing behind her would hold up a CalAgPlate sign?”

Ross told the students that among them could be sitting a future state lawmaker, water board member, agriculture secretary or even U.S. president. She said it’s important that California agriculture recognize its mission and the ability to feed the world.

“You cannot appreciate what you have until you don’t have it,” Ross said, noting that she missed fresh California produce when she shopped in Washington, D.C., during her stint as chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“California can show the world how to grow food,” she said.

In the interview, Ross said she always tries to set aside time in her schedule to meet with FFA members.

“They’re curious, energetic and they’ve got new ideas,” she said.

Meridian FFA Attends 85th State Leadership Conference in Twin Falls Fri, 22 Apr 2016 12:38:55 -0400 Alexa PhillipsMeridian FFA Chapter Reporter The 85th Idaho FFA State Leadership Conference (SLC) was held on April 6-9 at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho.

At this conference, FFA members from across the state are invited to compete in different Career Development Events (CDEs) and attend leadership sessions and workshops.

Meridian FFA had a total of 62 individuals attend; 32 of those were first time attendees. Throughout the week, different workshops were held for members to help expand their leadership skills. These workshops were put on by visiting Washington, Utah and Oregon state officers. During the conference sessions, Idaho’s current state officer team gave their retiring addresses, awarded scholarships, presented degrees and announced CDE and proficiency winners.

Select members throughout the state had the chance to perform a talent on stage during the conference sessions. Kaitlyn Muniz, Meridian FFA member, had the honor of singing the National Anthem during the opening session.

The Idaho FFA Foundation drew the winning ticket for the Tractor Raffle Scholarship Program at SLC as well. Tickets were sold for this tractor throughout the past school year to raise $14,000 for scholarships for Idaho senior FFA members. The Nampa FFA chapter sold this year’s winning ticket.

Three Meridian FFA members were awarded state-level FFA scholarships on stage: Kristin Nesbitt received $1,500 from the United Dairymen of Idaho, Andrew Heikkila received $1,000 from the Idaho Grower Shippers Association, and Jessica Kohntopp received $4,000 from Integrated Biological Systems Inc.

Meridian FFA members Maddie Bennett, Mackenzie Brown, Jessica Kohntopp, Loretta Lacy, Mallie Miller, Alexa Phillips, Ashlyn Schiers and Kyle Schmit all received their State Degrees on stage at SLC. All State Degree recipients passed the earlier sifting process this spring.

Meridian FFA also had four members run for State Office: Kristin Nesbitt, Andrew Heikkila, Maddie Bennett and Taylor Nelson. The State Officer sifting process consisted of many interviews, assessments and activities throughout the week. Meridian FFA member and University of Idaho freshman Taylor Nelson was elected to be the 2016-2017 State Reporter.

Cody Duff and Colin Steppe served as Meridian’s official conference delegates, attending meetings to debate and vote for our chapter on statewide issues.

Meridian also had two members apply for state proficiency awards. A proficiency award provides recognition to FFA members at the local, state, and national levels for exceptional accomplishments and excellence in their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects. Maddie Bennett was a state finalist in the area of Goat Production, earning a gold ranking. Jessica Kohntopp was the state winner in the area of Small Animal Production, also earning a gold ranking. Jessica’s proficiency application will go on to the regional level for evaluation.

Meridian competed in a total of eight CDEs that week. CDE results are as follows:

• Livestock Evaluation CDE – 4th Place, team members: Dani Turnbough, Kaitlyn Steppe, Zach Phillips, Joe Wieting, Zach Ball, Cody Ball.

• Dairy Evaluation CDE – 2nd Place, team members: Ashlyn Schiers (3rd high individual), Zach Phillips, Alexa Phillips, Cole Manda, Trace Beaucannon, Cody Duff.

• Conference Parliamentarian Exam – participants: Kate Johnson (4th high individual), Ashton Shaul (1st High Individual), Logan Diem, Cody Duff, Kaitlyn Steppe, Trinity Martin, Cassidey Plum, Sydney Plum, Brock Shurtz, Madison Stroebel, Kaylee Lindsey, Anna Jackson.

• Extemporaneous Speaking CDE – 2nd place - Maddie Bennett

• Floriculture CDE - 6th Place, team members: Kristin Nesbitt, Lauren Barker, Caitlin Martin, Mackenzie Brown (9th high individual).

• Farm Business Management CDE – 5th Place, team members: Lauren Anderson, Isaac Livesay, Joe Wieting, Kobe Manzer.

• Horse Evaluation CDE – 8th Place, team members: Ashlyn Schiers (3rd high individual), Lauren Jackson, Kiara Wetzel, Rachel Mansfield.

• Nursery/Landscape CDE – 4th Place, team members: Clayton Christensen (5th high individual), Mollie Hiscox, Kaitlin Muniz, Hailey Buffham.

Meridian FFA would like to thank the major conference sponsors that helped make this year’s State Leadership Conference financially possible: Dodge Ram, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, Simplot, Agri-Service, D.L. Evans Bank, Wells Fargo, Crop Production Services, D&B Supply, the University of Idaho, Northwest Farm Credit Services and Western States Equipment Co.

We’d like to express our gratitude to the 2015-2016 state officers for their past year of service; those officers were: President – Riely Geritz, Vice President – Dustin Winston, Secretary – Abigail Raasch, Treasurer – Samantha Daniels, Reporter – Jentrie Stastny and Sentinel – Henry Wilson.

A huge thank-you goes to the Idaho Executive Director, Clara-Leigh Evans, for working with these officers and all the state staff to ensure the 2016 SLC was a success. Good luck to the new 2016-2017 state officers in their upcoming year in office.

Our elected 2016-2017 State Officers are: President – Gretchen Hansten, Vice President - Faustin Wood, Secretary – Jenny Baustista, Treasurer – Clayton King, Reporter – Taylor Nelson and Sentinel – Makenna Routt.

Good luck to all the state CDE and proficiency winners who will be competing at Nationals this fall!

Idaho FFA brings ag to youngsters Tue, 12 Apr 2016 11:07:40 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Hundreds of Idaho FFA members took their jackets off and rolled up their sleeves for a myriad of “Days of Service” events during their annual State Leadership Conference last week.

“It’s a way to give back to the local community of Twin Falls that let us invade for a week,” said Josette Nebeker, ag teacher and FFA advisor from Craigmont.

Nebeker and some of her FFA students were focused on teaching young children about agriculture in the ag literacy event held at the Boys & Girls Club in Twin Falls. Their topic was forestry, and they were talking to children about trees and all the products derived from trees.

So much of what people know about agriculture is based on where they grew up. And with 72 percent of consumers knowing nothing or very little about agriculture, ag education is the most important part of agriculture, said FFA member Morgan Weeks.

It’s important that they know where food comes from and how agriculture affects the economy, he said.

Fellow FFA member Tanner Schwartz said people need to know where their food comes from and respect that, otherwise why would they care about challenges to agriculture or making it more sustainable.

The more informed youngsters are about agriculture and the world around them, the more likely they’ll be to be active in their community and voice their opinion, Nebeker said.

Ag literacy is important if agriculture is going to be able to feed a growing population in the future, said Michael Anders, a Junior FFA member from Salmon.

Salmon FFA members were doing activities to demonstrate the importance of using the limited available land in the best way possible to feed a growing world and educate children about soil nutrients.

“Everything in life has something to do with agriculture. Most people think agriculture is just farming and ranching; it’s science,” said Michael Bollen, Junior FFA member from Salmon.

“Our chapter really feels service in ag literacy is imperative in educating the public (about agriculture) and why we should support agriculture,” said Katie Cooper, ag teacher and FFA adviser at Salmon.

Shoshone FFA members were also on hand at the ag literacy event, hosting a fun and educational game of commodities bingo for the Boys and Girls Club’s 150, after-school 1st through 3rd graders.

It’s meant to teach children about agriculture and the kind of commodities grown in Idaho, said Brandee Lewis, Shoshone ag teacher and FFA advisor.

It’s important to start ag education at a young age so children get acquainted with agriculture and start to make a connection to the industry, said FFA member Katy Jo Fitzgerald.

Perceptions set in early, and there are so many negative perceptions and false impressions about agriculture. If the ag industry reaches children at a young age, they’ll be able to separate false information from fact and it will help the industry overcome the negative perceptions, she said.

New Idaho FFA officers: Go after your dream Mon, 11 Apr 2016 13:05:27 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Newly confirmed Idaho FFA state officers were running on empty when the State Leadership Conference wrapped up Saturday.

Still in shock and reeling from the rigorous nomination process, reaching their goal of state office was like being in a dream, they said.

“It was the most stressful but most fun I’ve ever had,” said newly selected state Treasurer Clayton King, 18, a senior at New Plymouth.

The journey started long before conference week, the new officers said.

It’s like a “super-long hike” to the top of the mountain where you get to see the view after working and pushing so hard, said President Gretchen Hansten, 17, of Jerome, who intends to major in agricultural education at the University of Idaho.

Now at the summit, the 2016-2017 officers want to give every FFA member the encouragement to make their dreams happen as well.

“My main goal is to make sure our members believe in themselves,” Hansten said.

She wants them to let go of any doubts and know they are capable of achieving that “wild dream,” she said.

Vice President Faustin Wood, 18, of Madison seconds that, saying he wants to inspire members to follow their dreams no matter how unattainable or crazy they seem.

One of the greatest things he’s learned is that no matter how far away a dream seems, it can be accomplished and there’s always room for growth, said the high school senior, who plans to study agricultural engineering at BYU-Idaho.

Given her background as the daughter of non-English speaking parents who came to Idaho from Mexico, Secretary Jenny Bautista, 17, of Homedale said she wants to emphasize to members “they can accomplish anything if they work hard, no matter their background.”

“And no matter what, people will be proud as long as you try,” said the high school senior, who intends to major in food science and Spanish at the University of Idaho.

Sentinel Makenna Routt, 18, of Castleford said she wants to provide members with the same positive influence, help and encouragement she’s received from the previous state officers and peers.

Routt plans to major in agricultural education and agribusiness at the University of Idaho.

King, who plans to study mechanical engineering and agribusiness at the University of Idaho, said he wants to get to know FFA members better — what makes them who they are — to be able to serve them better and inspire them to chase their dreams.

Reporter Taylor Nelson, 19, of Meridian, who is majoring in agricultural education at the University of Idaho, wants to spread some good advice given to her that has helped her get through difficult times.

“Believe in yourself and believe in what you have to say because it’s important,” she said.