PULLMAN, Wash. — The new Washington FFA state officers say they hope to grow, lead, serve and inspire the organization’s members in the coming year.
The new officers were announced May 11 during the final session of the state convention on the Washington State University campus in Pullman. Roughly 2,899 members attended the final session.
New president Awson Wheeler, of Sprague, said he first saw how special the organization is while attending an FFA plant sale with his older brother, who was also in the organization.
“We don’t really have a chapter; it’s a family,” he said. “When they care just as much about me as I care about them, then I know that’s the right place to be.”
Wheeler hopes to spread that family atmosphere in the coming year.
“I hope that I can properly lead Washington state FFA and I really hope we will become great service leaders for this organization,” he said.
Wheeler plans to attend the University of Idaho, studying agricultural systems management.
Vice president Kendyl Wiley, of Davenport, started raising market hogs in 4-H. Her interest in FFA grew when she saw other students wearing the signature blue jacket.
When her family moved to the state when she was in the eighth grade, her parents asked what she wanted in a new school.
“I told them, ‘A good volleyball program and FFA,’” she said. “I already had passions in agriculture and youth organizations from 4-H, but I was ready for a next-level organization.”
Wiley plans to study agricultural biotechnology at WSU.
Secretary Devin Schafer, of Lind-Ritzville FFA, said his father and grandfather were in FFA.
“I didn’t put too much thought to it, I just kind of jumped into it,” he said. “I hope we can grow, lead, serve. I feel it’s a great opportunity for me to give back to the organization and serve others.”
He plans to attend the University of Idaho and major in agricultural education and possibly agricultural systems management.
Treasurer Abbie Dorhauer, of Yelm, is a first-generation FFA member. She grew up on a hobby farm with about 20 head of cattle.
“No matter who you meet, where you go, you can find someone who’s involved and willing to share their story with you, to switch contact information and be friends from all the way across the state,” she said.
Dorhauer plans to attend college, but isn’t yet sure what she hopes to pursue as a major.
Reporter Mara Soto, of Chehalis, is following in her family’s footsteps. Her grandparents, parents and older brother were all in FFA.
“My mom said, You should do it, it’s a really great experience,’ and pretty much had everyone on her side,” Soto said. “I was forced to walk into the classroom the first day, but after that, I was no longer forced — I fell in love with it.”
Soto’s family lives on a 90-acre farm raising cattle, pigs and other livestock in Boistfort outside Chehalis.
“I hope to be able to make a difference in somebody’s life,” she said.
Soto plans to study agricultural education or animal science at WSU.
Sentinel Hannah Ruth Pettyjohn, of Walla Walla, got involved when her advisor suggested that she compete. Her grandfather and brother were in FFA. She grew up in town, she said, but her family has owned a farm for 160 years.
She plans to attend Walla Walla Community College for two years and transfer to WSU, studying agricultural education.
“I want to show my passion to the younger students within the organization and show them exactly what FFA has to offer them,” she said.