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California FFA holds banquet for members and families

by Kaden Quinn | May 11, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
California FFA officers give a presentation to friends and family during their end of the year banquet at the California Performing Arts Center on May 3, 2022. (Democrat photo/Kaden Quinn)

Learning how to be a farmer has its rewards.

The California Future Farmers of America Chapter held its awards banquet on May 3. California High School students came together with their friends, family and advisors to acknowledge their achievements in the FFA program.

Acting student FFA officers presented the banquet at the California Performing Arts Center. Officers gave out awards to their fellow members, recognizing students' accomplishments throughout the year.

FFA members working in Area III Proficiency (which includes work students focus on for distinct careers in agriculture), Vocational Agriculture Contest teams (which highlights agricultural lessons students are taught in the program), Fall Speech contests and many other specialized events received their time in the spotlight as officers called them up on stage to shake hands and extend awards.

Students also received other titles and awards for their individual work as FFA members. The banquet highlighted 12 students who received FFA State Degrees, which are awarded to the top four percent of membership in Missouri; seven students who received the American FFA Degree, which is awarded to the top three percent of the membership in the state; and two students recognized as Area 8 Stars in Agribusiness and Agriculture Placement.

FFA advisor Gary Reichel said this year the California FFA Chapter had huge success. He explained seeing the students succeed in their agricultural efforts is what the program is all about.

"As advisors, we are so proud of them," Reichel said. "We're proud that the community can come out and support and watch the awards that (members are) going to get tonight because the kids have put in a lot of work and they've done a really outstanding job. We're just extremely proud of every single one of them. That's been what makes this program what it is today."

Reichel spoke highly of graduating members. He noted how their perseverance served them well during their high school years and will continue to serve them in future endeavors.

"Talking to our senior's been kind of challenging the last couple of years with everything from the (coronavirus) pandemic they battled through. Seeing them succeed this year and go on to colleges and tech schools and right into the workforce just shows that perseverance and work ethic that we strive to educate these graduates," Reichel said. "It's awesome to see how they overcame the challenges that were put in front of them...and that's really, really outstanding watching them succeed."

With success comes a time for change. During the banquet, the 2021-2022 FFA officers passed down their positions to the 2022-23 FFA officers. The current officers transferred their roles of president, co-vice presidents, secretary, treasurer, co-reporters, sentinel, parliamentarian, co-historians, chaplain and Area VIII secretary to the newly decided 2022-2023

Senior and president Ella Lewis spoke for graduating members of the FFA Chapter as they prepare to say "goodbye" to California High School. Lewis thanked advisors for supporting, assisting and educating the students. She said each advisor has been like a "second dad" to the group and thanked their families for sharing them with members.

However, it wasn't just Lewis who gave thanks for the support. Reichel told the Democrat he was very happy with the help the community gave to the California FFA. He said it is a great assistance to the students and he hopes to continue seeing it influence members' success.

"I want to extend our thanks to the California community and surrounding areas. It's amazing what they do to get behind these kids and see how successful they are," Reichel said. "They're the reason we do what we do. It's because these kids want to thrive in our community and (we're) making them succeed ... the work ethic that's instilled in them is just amazing. We're super excited. We thank the community for all their support and their continued guidance to us as we see the program succeed."

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