Sutherlin FFA creates ‘thank you’ for food drive sponsor

Craig Reed/For the Capital PressSutherlin High FFA students Emma Matteo, left, and Geruen Erandio work on the plaques that the Oregon FFA Foundation will present to Les Schwab Tire stores in Oregon for their support of the FFA program and its October food drive. Eight Sutherlin High students made 115 plaques.

SUTHERLIN, Ore. — The work of eight Sutherlin High School FFA students will soon grace the walls of every Les Schwab tire store in Oregon.

Those students, with guidance from teacher and FFA adviser Wes Crawford, designed, hand crafted and assembled 115 plaques. The wood, metal and vinyl finished signs recognize Schwab’s support of FFA. They are also a “thank you” from the Oregon FFA Foundation to the Oregon-based tire company for its sponsorship of FFA’s statewide food drive in October.

Sutherlin High senior Geruen Erandio said at some time in the future, when he happens to walk into a Schwab store and he sees the plaque, he’ll take pride in it.

“When I see it, I’m sure I’ll reminisce on the memories of staining and assembling it,” he said. “I’ll feel proud. Our hands touched every single one of them. That’ll be just awesome to see them sometime in the future.”

The actual plaque is 16 inches wide and 24 inches tall. At the top is the FFA emblem and below that bold, black vinyl letters on gold stained, buffed metal proclaim Schwab as a supporter of FFA. A spot in the middle of the plaque is for a photo of either the members of the local FFA chapter for whichever area the Schwab store is in or for a photo of Oregon’s state FFA officers.

The Oregon FFA Foundation put the project out for bid last summer. The Sutherlin FFA chapter turned in a bid and a prototype of its plaque idea. The chapter was selected to produce the plaques in August.

Sutherlin 2015 graduates Kimi Gerstner, Sandra Cox and Jessie Campbell, seniors Bryson Price, Lukas Roman, Colby Hobgood and Erandio, and junior Emma Matteo have been working on the project since. The plaques will be delivered to the Oregon FFA Foundation office in Corvallis in the next week or two and then they’ll be distributed to the Schwab stores around the state by FFA members.

Crawford said the Sutherlin FFA chapter made $3,500 from this project. He explained getting wood from Roseburg Forest Products and metal from Great Northern Trailers in Sutherlin at discounted prices helped greatly in lowering the cost for the chapter.

“There were two reasons we bid for the project,” Crawford said. “One was to use it as a fundraiser for those kids competing at nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, and the other was the opportunity to show the abilities and capabilities of our high school students.”

The eight students made use of four different computer numerical controlled processes (wood router, plasma table, vinyl and laser) to construct every part used in assembling the plaques.

“It has been a win-win situation, as the FFA Foundation chose to support a chapter to make these instead of just ordering them from other parts of the world, and it worked as a good fundraiser for us as well,” Crawford said.

“Some of the students had experience, but they still had a lot to learn to complete all the processes in order to build the plaque,” he added. “Other students were really pushed outside of their comfort zones.”

A wood router cut out the main board, a laser cut out the FFA emblem, a plasma cutter produced the metal frames and plates, and a vinyl computer program cut out the lettering. The students then had to bevel and sand edges, stain the wood and metal, assemble the pieces and apply the lettering.

“It’s been a really good learning experience,” Matteo said. “We learned how to use the equipment, we learned about the building process.

“I’m glad we were involved in this project,” she added. “To see the final plaque, it’s like ‘Wow, I helped with that.’”

“We are excited to put our branded creations into every Les Schwab store across the state,” Crawford said.

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