Kaitlyn Kuzma, 17, is the Scio FFA Chapter Historian and chair of the Scio FFA’s school partnership with the Willamette Valley Ag Expo.

Members of Scio High School’s FFA chapter help each year at the Willamette Valley Ag Expo, getting lots of valuable experience along the way.

The Expo relies on the school’s energetic Blue Jacket squads for cashiering, ticket-selling and -taking, and other “critical volunteer positions,” said Jill Ingalls, the Expo’s co-producer.

But it goes beyond that. Ingalls said that over the course of a few years of money-handling training from Citizens Bank staff, the students developed a leadership and training program of their own.

“It’s pretty amazing, and so good for the kids to learn from one another and maintain their own program from year-to-year, student-to-student,” Ingalls said. “Sometimes we’re sad to see the graduating class go after working with them for three or four years.”

Two of this year’s students are teeing up the Scio FFA’s 2019 partnership with the Expo: Kaitlyn Kuzma, 17, this year’s FFA historian and Expo program chair, and Macy Bodine, 17, last year’s chair and this year’s Scio FFA chapter president.

“We’re working on filling (Expo work) shifts as soon as possible,” Kuzma said. “That way we’ll have them all ready to go when it comes time.”

Money earned by the FFA members working shifts during the three-day event typically goes into saving for an FFA event travel or, if their accounts still have funds, for FFA-related gear, such as jackets and caps.

In return, the Expo gets energetic help from 12 to 15 Scio FFA members.

“The only times we’ve really had an issue in filling the shifts is if we don’t advertise it enough” to the FFA members well ahead of the event, Kuzma said.

The FFA members are constantly working throughout the school year to fill their accounts for travel and accommodations at state and national conventions — work that also includes “lots of bottle collecting, football barbecues, desserts at the school’s spring banquet and wreath-making for the winter banquet,” Kuzma said.

“Jill (Ingalls) takes really good care of us,” she said, “because we do get really tired and she watches out to make sure we’re not overdoing it.”

Kuzma plans on attending Linn-Benton Community College for two years with a focus on ag-related courses ahead of a four-year degree at Oregon State University or other university.

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