West County FFA Update

By Emily Maners

National FFA Week

February 21st-25th is National FFA Week. Through this week, members have the opportunity to showcase their projects, celebrate their achievements, and teach others about the organization. Our chapter celebrated National FFA Week by hosting spirit days and fun activities. Our spirit days were denim day, camo vs bling, cow appreciation day, and anything but a backpack day Agriculture edition. We provided a taco Tuesday and ice cream on cow appreciation day. One lunch we held cornhole matches. Ag Olympics was another lunch time activity where students competed through roping dummies, hay bucking, milk chugging, tricycle races and spoon and egg race. As an officer team, we also spent a Monday afternoon putting together ag boxes for every member of staff here at West County that were full of commodities produced in Sonoma County. The boxes had little treats like almonds, fruit bars, succulents, water, other agriculturally based items as well as a piece of FFA merch. On Thursday the 24th, we had over thirty participants join us for the California FFA 5K. Some people walked, skipped, or ran around Sebastopol to finish at the high school to get a medal. 

The Sacramento Leadership Experience during FFA week is held at the state capital. I was one of seventy-five students in California to attend as a mock legislator. As a senator, I represented district 15 by promoting a section of the Food Omnibus Bill The Sweetened Beverage Tax. As the sponsor for the section, I promoted the tax. We held committee meetings for the senators´ two bills where the bill was voted on, debated, or amended. The bills passed by simple majority and moved to the Assembly. In the second round of review with switched bills, they were assigned to another committee and debated and voted on. Finally, a conference committee made of House and Senate members worked out any differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. We made amendments to the bills to fit the needs of each of our districts’ constituents. I met with Senator McGuire, discussing current issues that we as FFA members see facing the agriculture industry. I also spoke with a representative that works with Assembly Member Levine. We spoke with key members in the agriculture industry such as the Vice President of the California Farm Bureau, Shannon Douglass, and Assembly Member, James Gallagher. We had a social dinner where we were able to speak with various key leaders in Agriculture. One speaker was Audrey Denney who ran for the U.S. House to represent California’s 1st Congressional District. Each of these leaders had one thing in common, they were members of FFA. Some of them were in the same shoes as me, attending SLE. Understanding that being a government leader may not be the path for all of us, we learned key things that can help us in any future endeavor. We reflected each night, in hopes of savoring the time and honor of attending the Sacramento Leadership Experience. Through defending the morals of our district, we learned how to set our opinions aside to best represent the community. This experience and the people I met, opened many doors and was an experience I will never forget.

There was a Feed Clinic on February twenty-third that took place at the YAL Center in Rohnert Park. There were experts who broke down feeding beef, sheep, goats, and swine. The attendees included members in 4-H, independent, and FFA members. Our officer team and a few volunteers helped run a snack bar for the event of 100 people. We provided pizza, sodas and beverages, snacks, candy and other concessions, making roughly around $100. With the fair coming up, this was an informative event for youth showing to learn some tips before purchasing their market lamb.


Regional Events

February 27th-28th was the Regional Meeting, Regional Speaking Contest and Awards Ceremony in Eureka. At the regional Speaking Contest, our chapter had four members compete. The three members that qualified for state are Analise Scholten in Prepared speech, receiving third in the contest, Matthew Hagemann who placed 4th in Creed speaking, and I placed 4th in the Job interview contest. 

Agricultural Proficiency Awards honor FFA members who, through supervised agricultural experiences, have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers. We’ve had many proficiency finalists including Kiley Anderson for Star Ag Placement, Emily Maners for Ag Sales Entrepreneurship, Kira Detorres for Equine Science Placement, Tristan Wilkes for Forage Production, Alonso Vera for Forest Management and Products, Colton Shaw for Landscape Management, and Analise Scholten for Nursery Operations and Sheep Production. For the state finalists, we have Tristan Wilkes, Alonso Vera, Colton Shaw, and Analise Scholten. At the State Conference they will be competing with two other members in their award area in an interview. Good luck to everyone competing and congratulations to the finalists.

Our State Degree recipients were recognized at the Regional Meeting. The recipients are Wyatt Alberigi, Brayton Bartlett, Gabriel DeLoza, Kayla Ficco, Margaret Gudino, Hunter Ivaldi, Tammy Kelley, Liam Kelly, Jacob Lassen, Christian Olivarez Landin, Tucker Pacatte, Analise Scholten, Colton Shaw, Joseph Spediacci, Alonso Vera, and Tristan Wilkes. 

Colton Shaw and Matthew Haggeman were Regional Delegates at the Regional Meeting on February 27th. After watching the Regional officers 2022-2023 candidates answer questions, they voted on the new Regional Officer Team. Members were able to talk and listen to the state officers as well as other members within our region. 

Career Development Experiences

Vine Pruning Team Update

On February 5th our West County vine pruning team drove down to Fresno State University with Mrs. Lokka to compete in the Mid Winter FFA State Finals. The team did great! Our team was 4th overall in cordon table grape pruning and 9th overall in the state! Congratulations to Manuel Ruiz for placing 4th high individual in cordon table grape pruning! 

Livestock Judging Update

There was a livestock judging contest that was held on January 29th at the Sonoma County Fair, February 12th in Chico, and the UC Davis Contest on April 4th. Our chapter has had two teams compete. At the Sonoma County contest, we had first and second high teams. For reasons, Analise Scholten was first overall, Frances Marshall was fourth, and Hannah Campanile was fifth. At the Chico state field day, our chapter was ninth high team overall, fifth high for swine, and sixth high for sheep. Frances Marshall was first high individual and eighth overall for reasons. For the UC Davis contest, the team was 12th overall, 8th in reasons, and 8th in beef. Analise Scholten received eighth overall, fifth for sheep and goats, and 7th for swine. 

Horse Judging Team

The horse judging team competed at the UC Davis Contest was a success. The team placed 7th for placing. Caleigh Wilkes placed 1st in placings and Cassie McKnight placed 3rd.

Upcoming Events

There are eighteen attendees going to the State Conference this year with the three Ag Teachers. We, as a chapter, are holding a Tri-Tip Fundraiser to raise money for the trip and help with expenses. Our members who are going for proficiencies, the three finalist state speakers, and the star awards (star reporter, star staff, star replacement) are preparing too for some contests and interviews that they have to participate in while in Sacramento.

Fair time is quickly approaching! The Steer pre-tagging is on April 23rd. All steers must be present to be eligible for the 2022 Sonoma County Fair. Entries are due Monday, April 23rd by 11:59 pm. This means that entries are due before the steer weigh-in. There is a Facebook group for exhibitors that you can use to find new updates.

If you are really interested in FFA and want to be a part of the officer team, keep an eye out for the officer application in the last week of March. Being a part of the officer team is a really fun experience and you get to know the ins and outs of everything that is happening with our chapter as well as can put in your own ideas to make the chapter better.