Sixteen students represented the Elma FFA chapter at the 85th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, several earning high honors.
Elma students represented Washington State in four of the 23 Career Development Events at the competition, including Poultry Science Evaluation, Parliamentary Procedure, Dairy Cattle Evaluation, and Dairy Cattle Handler.
Elma FFA was also recognized as one of nine from Washington as a 3-Star chapter, placing it in the top 1 percent of chapters nationwide. Matt Hinderlie and Vanessa Rutherford earned the highest individual award, the American Degree.
Six Elma FFA members competed in the Parliamentary Procedure Career Development Event and captured ninth in the nation with gold emblem recognition. Team members include: Emily Kershaw, Megan Jump, Logan Zepp, Wyatt Carter, Tyler LaDue and Sam Baderdeen.
“This is the first team ever from Elma to compete in this elite contest,” Elma FFA adviser Christi Kershaw said. “The students competed against 44 teams and made it through to the semi-final round. It was intense, memorable, and exciting.”
A gold emblem was awarded to the Dairy Cattle Evaluation Team for their 11th place finish. Wyatt Gray individually placed 14th in the nation during the Dairy Cattle Evaluation Career Development Event earning a gold emblem. Teammates Shelby Felder and Morgan Jump also earned a gold emblem. Mac Miller was awarded silver.
“Evaluating dairy cattle for production, soundness, profit and management is one for the many components of the contest,” according to Felder, who is team captain. The student team also reviewed herd records, data and genetics to solve a dairy business problem along with orally justifying their evaluation.
Paige Kershaw showed and handled different breeds of dairy cattle, earning recognition as a Silver Emblem Dairy Handler.
The Poultry Science Team captured 18th place, earning a silver emblem. Melissa Hall, James Davis, Lorenzo Ayala and Marie Geiger were awarded the silver emblem. Mikayla Smith served as the alternate.
“We evaluate all aspects of the poultry industry,” Marie Geiger explained. “It’s like we are the USDA inspector, manager and producer.”
Competition was not the only agenda item for the Elma FFA Chapter. Parents, along with advisers and coaches. Dave Rutherford, Christi Kershaw, Emily Wamsley, and Marilyn Gray accompanied the teens in Washington, D.C., and Indiana. Elma FFA members visited a number of sites, including American history, natural history, aerospace and holocaust museums, the Smithsonian, Arlington National Cemetery, George Washington’s estate, several memorials and monuments, Fair Oaks Dairy Farm, the National FFA Career Show, and Indianapolis Speedway. Members also attended leadership and business sessions.
“This experience is earned. I am proud I worked hard to earn the opportunity to represent our chapter as the national level and to experience a once in a lifetime trip,” said Champion Dairy Evaluator Wyatt Gray.
Elma FFA members were able to travel in part by community sponsorship from the the Vaughan Company, Darigold, Montesano Farm & Home, Dow Chemical, Elma Feed & Farm Supply, Anchor Bank, Elma Grange, VFW Auxiliary, Sharon Grange, Anensen Enterprises, Sharon Home Ec Club, Steve Smythe Country Insurance, and Port Blakely Tree Farm.
Logan Zepp, Elma FFA president, said he’s “very thankful for all the businesses in the difficult economic time that continue to support our chapter as we build the next generation of leaders.”