Seniors said their final goodbyes to the California Future Farmers of America (FFA) organization.
California FFA members met on May 9 with their friends and family for the team's annual banquet. It was a night filled with various awards and acknowledgments bestowed on members for their performances throughout the year.
In her message to members and attendees, California FFA President Gabby Rohrbach said she was blessed to have the opportunity to experience being a part of the organization. She said watching the chapter grow and progress for the past four years has been inspiring.
"Officer team, I was so excited going into this year knowing just how much knowledge and passion we possessed on the team, and let me just say, you all did not disappoint," Rohrbach said. "We accomplished so much and I am sad to leave it. I love you all and cannot wait to see where life takes you."
"As for my fellow members and underclassmen, I cannot come up with the words to describe my gratitude other than, 'thank you.' You are what makes FFA what it is," Rorhbach continued. "There are so many things that you might think go unnoticed, however, those things are truly what makes this organization so special. It is these actions that make the blue jacket so special. And I encourage you to partake in them before it is time for you to hang yours up."
California FFA officials swore in a new slate of officers for the 2023-24 academic year. Members voted Dillon Wood as president, Chase Schlup as co-vice president, Allison Klein as co-vice president, Haylee Kiesling as secretary, Collin Althoff as treasurer, Brayden Hallford as co-reporter, Rebekah Inglish as co-reporter, Alexis Aguiano as sentinel, Derek Bolinger as parliamentarian, Ivy Scroggins as co-historian, Myra Silvey as co-historian, Izzy Allen as chaplain and Chase Schlup as Area VIII vice president.
Tate Higgins, reporter for the California FFA's conduct team, told the Democrat she's excited to move on from her high school career. However, she will miss the people she's met through the FFA organization.
"I definitely will miss like, the social aspect of everything and the hands-on (learning)," Higgins said. "I would strongly suggest joining the FFA. It's a very, very good experience, even if it's something that you wouldn't think you would enjoy. Because at the beginning of the year, I was really not thinking I would do much with FFA, but ended up going and winning state, going very far."
"I'm going to miss all the people that got to be part of our conduct team. We had a really good strong group and it was fun being able to have that experience with them," added Peyton Dunham, secretary for the California FFA's conduct team.
Advisors noted next fall, California FFA members will perform at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.
"This fall will be the first time California has been able to take a team to National Convention to compete," California FFA advisor Gary Reichel told the Democrat. "They'll be out there for a full week. They'll start with a written test and then they'll do a preliminary round. If they qualify through prelims (judges) will be selecting the top 12 for semis. Then after the top 12, hopefully, you'll make the Final Four and compete in the National Championship. The kids, they'll be really busy, but they got a good shot. They're a good set of kids that we are taking out there."
Something advisors noted for this year's California FFA members was their engagement. California FFA Advisor Gary Morris said, in the last few years, he's seen student participation increase within the chapter.
"We have a lot of kids that want to compete in contests and as teams, they want to participate in different activities that we do throughout the year. Which makes what we do pretty rewarding. You know, if we're going to be here doing this stuff, we definitely want kids participating as well," Morris said. "There's a lot of (students) that do a lot for us throughout the year and every time you lose a class of seniors, it's always sad to see them go because they've contributed so much to our program in the four years that they've been here. But they set a great example for our younger members to follow and that's kind of our hope. That our younger members follow the tradition that the seniors have established."
During the banquet, California FFA bestowed multiple awards and acknowledgments to individual students and teams.
- Jackson Cassil, Cody Williams, Peter Dampf, Kate Freiner, Hunter Bereden, Austin Bonecutter, Abby Braby, Kyla Combs, Gabrielle Rorhbach, Emma Russell and David Schneider received State FFA Degrees.
- Garret Burger, Johnny Garcia, Sidney Pettigrew, Cameron Schlup and McKayla Williams received American FFA Degrees.
- Area VIII Proficiency Award winners include: Abby Braby in Agricultural Communications and Agricultural Education; Penelope Cotten in Agricultural Processing; DJ Schneider in Agricultural Mechanics Fabrication and Design; Quynten Cary in Agricultural Sales (Entrepreneurship); Kate Freiner in Agricultural Sales (Placement); Gage Nott in Agricultural Services; Abby Trachsel in Agriscience Plant Systems Research; Hunter Berendzen in Beef Production (Entrepreneurship and Placement); Ayden Bryant (Dairy Production); Jackson Cassil in Diversified Agricultural Production; Brayden Hallford in Diversified Crop (Placement); Macie Trimble in Diversified Horticulture; Chase Schlup in Diversified Livestock Production and Environmental Science and Natural Resource Management; Carly Messerli in Equine Science (Entrepreneurship and Placement); Peter Dampf in Fiber and Oil Crop Production; Gabby Rorhbach in Food Services; Colin Kruger in Forage Production; Haylee Kiesling in Goat Production; Gavin Porter in Grain Production; Patrick Morrow in Landscape Management; Macie Trimble in Nursery Operations; Chase Schlup in Outdoor Recreation; Peter Dampf in Poultry Production; Kyla Combs in Small Animal Production and Care; Bennet Gatlin in Specialty Animal Production; Colin Althoff in Swine Production (Entrepreneurship and Placement); Patrick Morrow in Turf Grass Management; Dillon Wood in Vegetable Production; DJ Schneider in Veterinary Science; and Chase Schlup in Wildlife Management.