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Salute to FFA A special supplement to the Daily Sun News and Sun News Shopper

February 21, 2012

Laura Gjovaag/Daily Sun News

Sunnyside High School’s FFA chapter members include (back row L-R) Ryan Kannely, Christopher Bestebreur, Ryan Wilson, Tony Garza and Amanda Bestebreur; (middle row L-R) Dalton Yates, Kalie Bestebreur, Jasmine Neal and Nancy Ochoa; (front) Katie Hutchins.

Sunnyside High School FFA still growing


Sunnyside High School FFA Instructor Ryan Kannely says there is a good reason it’s not called “Future Farmers of America” any longer. “It’s changed as much as agriculture has changed,” he said. He noted that farmers of today require schooling and the ability to use computers to get the most out of their land. That doesn’t mean FFA isn’t about farming. Katie Hutchins of the school’s FFA chapter talked about her efforts raising pigs, sheep and dairy cows and showing them at local fairs. “It’s fun,” said Hutchins. “We get a lot out of it.” Kannely said raising animals is still a core element for FFA. “It’s a great way to teach responsibility,” he said. “Kids know that if their parents don’t roust them out to do the work, I will.” The acronym FFA may not stand for anything any longer, but FFA is a club that continues to train youth in a hands-on way. Kannely said the chapter

also works on public speaking, community service and leadership. His group has been involved in putting on school-wide meals. With about 10 regulars and 30 other students who work on events, the chapter is robust and growing.

Recently the chapter has been discussing a possible backpacking trip. The trip would give them a first-hand look at range conditions and how land is managed in the state. On previous excursions, students have done see “Still growing” next page


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Sunnyside FFA member Cody Woodworth (foreground) guides his pig during a fitting and showing event at the 2011 Central Washington Jr. Livestock Show in Toppenish.

Still growing

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Yakima Valley Fair & Rodeo

plant surveys. This year, May will be a big month for the Sunnyside High School FFA. Its annual plant sale will be held May 4-5, and the chapter is currently getting ready to start raising the plants. At the end of May, the group will be attending the state convention. In the meantime, students are working on individual projects, including raising animals and learning more about plant life, the traditional scope of FFA. “We haven’t forgotten the roots,” said Kannely.

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- Laura Gjovaag can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email



Salutes Our Local FFA Chapters

Sunnyside FFA member Katie Hutchins grabs a cat nap on her calf at the Yakima Valley Fair & Rodeo in Grandview last summer.

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FUN FACTS Alumni of high school FFA programs include country singer Willie Nelson as well as former Eagles drummer Don Henley. FFA alums have also gone on to the world of politics, such as former President Jimmy Carter. Other famous alums of FFA include athlete Bo Jackson and country singer Tim McGraw.

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I Believe, theme of 2012 FFA week The Lower Yakima Valley is joining in to celebrate National FFA Week, Feb. 18-25, 2012. I Believe is the theme this year and more than half a million members around the nation will participate in National FFA Week activities at the local and state levels. FFA Week gives members a chance to educate the public about agriculture. During the week, chapters host teacher appreciation

breakfasts, conduct “Ag Olympics” competitions, speak to the public about agriculture volunteer for community service projects and more. The week of George Washington’s birthday was designated as National FFA Week in 1947 at a National FFA Board of Directors meeting. FFA Week always runs from Saturday to Saturday, and encompasses Feb. 22 Washington’s birthday.

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GRANDVIEW - This year’s theme for FFA week is “I Believe,” and Grandview High School’s FFA chapter members are learning to believe in their own capabilities. Students who participate in FFA learn leadership skills, according to chapter Reporter Arthur Alcazar. He said, “Leadership is important and a team needs to learn how to believe in its leaders.” FFA Secretary Kayla Lucas agreed, stating, “The mark of a true leader is someone who sees the need to accomplish something. They develop a plan or take the initiative to meet that need.” Her chapter, she said, exhibits these traits by helping

other clubs at Grandview High School and helping other students learn about FFA. Nate Trevino is the chapter’s treasurer. He said, “A leader knows how to communicate and I am learning communication skills that will help me in the future.” He and Alcazar agreed communication skills will help them become successful in their future careers. Alcazar said communication skills are learned through public speaking and the chapter’s community service projects, such as the Christmas tree sales last December. “We had to learn how to talk with our customers and find out what they wanted,” photo courtesy of Ryan Maiden he said. Members of the Grandview High School FFA chapter this school year hosted State FFA Vice PresiAlcazar said the chapter has dent Kyle Strachila (standing second from left) and Sentinel Christy Poirier (sitting center). Grandview reached out to others by vis- FFA officers pictured are (standing L-R) Nate Trevino, Arthur Alcazar and Fernando Lujan; (sitting see Believe” next page

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Believe continued from page 4

iting classrooms, and hosted a group of officers from the Washington State FFA. The state officers also visited the classrooms to help the Grandview chapter grow. Because the Grandview chapter has been on the small side, Advisor Ryan Maiden said the group worked to increase its membership. The result is that there are 14 paid members this year. “In the past I have had about eight members, but they weren’t active…this year’s membership is a definite improvement,” he said. As a result of the growth, the chapter prepared a project for a career development event held earlier this month. That project involved extensive research, according to Maiden. “They researched (ATVs) and the importance of all terrain vehicles on the farm,” he said, stating the group had to complete a project that involved a presentation. The project also taught the FFA members important marketing skills because they had to learn important features of different ATVs, as well as how to sell them. Lucas said the chapter is growing in other ways because the group is also growing its character. “I believe an important part of developing character is developing a sense of community through serving and giving,” she said. The



School FFA gives to various organizations. Alcazar said the group helped the DECA club collect toiletries that were sent to the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Seattle. The FFA chapter contributed toilet paper and toothpaste to the more than 1,500 items sent to the charity. Trevino said the chapter also gives back to the community by teaching its members the importance of agriculture and respect for the environment. He said he is a member of Ducks Unlimited and believes the environment is important. Trevino also lives on a farm and sees how neglect of the environment can leave a negative impact because other people have improperly disposed of chemicals on his family’s property. “I’ve developed a greater respect of the environment through learning about good agricultural practices through FFA,” said Trevino. Lucas agreed, stating orchardists near her home use sprays for crop management purposes. “I have breathing problems when they spray,” she said, adding she didn’t understand as much as she now does about the importance of those sprays. Because of FFA, said Lucas, she understands the necessity for crop management. The group said they have learned the important role

photo courtesy of Ryan Maiden

Grandview FFA members (L-R) Madison Door, Nate Trevino and Fernando Lujan advertise the chapter’s annual Christmas tree sale this past December.

of agriculture in the community as a result of their FFA membership, as well. Alcazar said the group has also learned the importance of giving to those in need when it donated a Christmas tree to the high school’s leadership group. “The leadership group adopted a local family and the family received the tree,” he said. FFA members also learn how to serve the community, said Alcazar. He said the Christmas tree sales ceased a couple of years ago, but some community members contacted Maiden requesting the chapter re-

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sume the sales. To serve the community’s needs, the chapter sold trees again last December. “I feel like learning the skills of giving and serving helps develop our sense of growth…it fosters the desire to continue giving and serving,” said Alcazar. He said, “Those desires can reach beyond our years in high school, and as a member of a church that also believes in these qualities, it becomes natural.” Trevino said serving the community means being aware of your surroundings and being willing to meet the needs of those around you. It can mean taking care of

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others or taking care of the land. The land is something he values and he said learning about caring for the land, to him, means taking care of the air and the animals, as well as the people. “I see how the animals are affected when they are crammed in together…I know they can be healthier and I know they would be better if they aren’t crammed in together,” said Trevino, stating he believes educating youngsters like him will help improve poor conditions to the benefit for everyone. - Jennie McGhan can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

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Granger FFA believes in the future GRANGER – Granger High School senior Jason Ornelas says joining FFA has been helpful in having a successful future. “It’s taught us how to help our local chapter (members) and given us the opportunity to meet new people,” the Granger FFA treasurer said. The Granger chapter of nearly 20 high school students has been learning the importance of agriculture firsthand. Through various yearly activities the chapter attends and hosts, and working on the side for FFA adviser Josh Golob, student leaders say they feel prepared for a future in agriculture and beyond. Through helping on Golob’s farm and learning valuable life skills, people skills and confidence, the students say joining FFA was one of the best decisions of their high school careers. see “Future” next page

The 2011-12 Mabton FFA officers (L-R) Ryker Ely (vice president), Abidan Duarte (president), Jason Ornelas (treasurer) and Manuel Andrade (sentinel) say FFA has helped them acquire valuable leadership skills. Amber Schlenker/Daily Sun News

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Future continued from page 6

The official meeting rituals also help students become well-versed in meeting procedures for the future. “These students are leaders now and they will be leaders in the future,” says Golob, citing the importance of knowing how official meetings operate. But learning leadership skills is just one of the perks. “We also create bonds with our friends (through FFA),” says the group’s president and Granger High School junior Abidan Duarte. The chapter members say in addition to the annual projects, competitions and fundraisers, they also enjoy group trips and activities such as white-water rafting. To participate in activities, the group holds fundraisers year-round. “It’s good to raise the funds for what they want to do,” Golob added. “That way no money is coming out

photos courtesy of Josh Golob

Jason Ornelas, Adviser Josh Golob and Ryker Ely (L-R) enjoy a white-water rafting trip to culminate last year’s chapter events.

of their pockets and they are working valuable to know and teach others the value of the agricultural industry. towards a goal.” “If we didn’t have ag workers, we The group is now looking for- wouldn’t eat,” says Golob. ward to the annual Granger Alumni Association banquet this spring. - Amber Schlenker can be contacted at 509-837-4500, Each year the association has an an- or email nual meeting and selected students are awarded scholarships. The FFA students volunteer their time to serve the dinner and say they FUN FACTS enjoy seeing the care and involvement of Granger’s past students. In 2011, 129 sponsors provided 1,590 individual scholarships worth Golob and the Granger FFA leadermore than $1.9 million through ship agree, the National FFA theme “I the Nati onal FFA Organization. To believe” rings true to the FFA creed which begins by saying, “I believe in date, more than $34 million in FFA collegiate scholarships have been the future of agriculture.” awarded to students pursuing Aside from learning valuable skills higher education. and participating in community and Granger FFA member Dakota Heitzman works on his pig-raising project for the Cen- group activities, the students say it is tral Washington Jr. Livestock Show scheduled for this spring in Toppenish.

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Mabton FFA officers prepare to pass the reins MABTON – The Mabton High School FFA chapter re-activated its group just three years ago. When the school hired a new agricultural teacher, Randi Krieg, she also became the school’s FFA adviser. Interest piqued in students, and the club went from inactive to nearly 70 members. Now, three years later, the club is maintaining a see “Reins” next page

photo courtesy of Randi Krieg

Gabriel Martinez, Vickie Navarro, Jose Gonzalez and Pedro Valencia (L-R) test their skills during the annual West Valley Cider Press held this school year.

Mabton FFA member Jazzee Sustaita helps elementary school student Jaylyn Cisneros with an edible soil lesson. photo courtesy of Randi Krieg

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Student leaders (L-R) Jesenia Meza, Nohemi Meza, Karen Mendoza and Vanessa Ann Sanchez pose for a photo at a national competition held in Louisville, Ky. this past October.

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Mabton FFA member Jesenia Meza (left) helps Artz Fox Elementary students during Mabton FFA’s second annual winter blast event.

Reins continued from page 8

steady membership, with 63 paid members. The students recently made the trek to a national convention after taking a gold plaque home from the state see “Reins� next page


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Reins continued from page 9

convention. The students have been working with the community and have opted to help tutor special education students at Mabton’s Artz Fox Elementary School. At the conventions FFA members entered contests, including a writeup of the local tutoring project and won awards. “They won $500 to help pay for (tutoring) materials,” Krieg said. The students took home a silver

honors plaque at the national level. While preparing for the annual events, competitions and fundraisers, the group is also preparing for an almost brand new executive board next year. “This will be the first year that three of our officers are going to leave (because of graduation),” said the club’s president and Mabton senior Karen Mendoza. In lieu of that, the group’s leaders are working with the chapter members to instill a deep-seated self confidence while carrying out the National FFA 2012 theme: “I believe.” “We, as leaders, are here to tell our

members that we believe in them,” Mendoza added. She and the officers tell all members of the group, “I believe in what you’re doing and that what you’re doing is right for you.” Mendoza says this year’s theme has strengthened the group. “It’s turned our chapter into a family,” she said. In addition, she’s confident with the community, student and the school staff’s support the group will succeed long after she is off to medical school.

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Now numbering more than 30 members, the Sunnyside Christian High School FFA chapter has enjoyed a growth spurt during the past school year. Sabrina Mensonides is the chapter president and she says the experience is a highlight of her high school years. “It’s helped me to get out of my shell, to talk to people more,” says Mensonides, a senior who is in her fourth year with the club. FFA members at Sunnyside Christian have been busy during the school year, including earning fifthplace team honors in tractor driving at the Central Washington State Fair in Yakima this past September. Even more impressive, the Sunnyside Christian FFA group captured first-place honors for livestock judging at the Yakima fair. In December the club’s float was

Daily Sun News file photo

FFA membership has grown at Sunnyside Christian this past school year as this group photo can attest.

Teamwork is one of the lessons FFA students at Sunnyside Christian High School learn. Pictured from left are Betsy Knotts and Melissa Dalrymple trimming a tire for the club’s Lighted Farm Implement Parade entry this past December.

photo courtesy Sabrina Mensonides

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“My parents encourage me, but I third among youth division entries in Sunnyside’s Lighted Farm Implement have to do all the work,” she says of learning through FFA activities. “It Parade. teaches you a lot, I’d recommend it to anyone,” Mensonides added. Both girls plan to carry their FFA While some club members such as Mensonides show animals at fair experience with them when they events, some like Vice President leave high school, and are considerAlexandra Newhouse are active in ing studies in fields related to farming and agriculture. the club in other ways. Mensonides, the reigning Yakima “We all have the ability to participate, to judge animals,” says Valley Dairy Ambassador, plans Newhouse, a junior in her third year to attend Dordt College in 2012 or of FFA. “We have the same opportu- 2013, depending on how she fares in competition to be the state’s dairy nities.” Newhouse says the FFA experi- ambassador. Newhouse hopes to attend WSU or ence “really encourages leadership, Montana State University and study to be assertive.” For Mensonides, FFA has taught veterinarian medicine. “I was raised her life lessons ranging from run- around animals,” she says. In the short-term, though, the ning a club meeting to hand milking see “Grow” next page a cow.

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Grow continued from page 11

Sunnyside Christian FFA chapter still has one more key activity for the 2011-12 school year, the annual spring Farm Olympics it organizes for students at Sunnyside Christian Elementary School. Mensonides says she still remembers Farm Olympic events from her elementary school days. “It was a lot of fun and it encouraged me to join FFA because I really wanted to be like the older FFA kids,” she says. The theme for FFA Week 2012 is “I Believe,” and the

photo courtesy Sabrina Mensonides

Sunnyside Christian FFA member McKenzie Benjert shows her pig during the Yakima Valley Fair & Rodeo in Grandview this past August.

photo courtesy Sabrina Mensonides

Sunnyside Christian FFA officers for 2011-12 are (L-R) Hilary Bangs, secretary; Betsy Knotts, treasurer; Alexandra Newhouse, vice president; Maddy Wavrin, reporter; Billy Van Wingerden, sentinel; and Sabrina Mensonides, president.



girls share a firm belief in the positive influence of FFA on young and old. “I believe FFA encourages people to learn about farming, which is good,” says Newhouse. “People need to learn about how our milk and food are produced.” Mensonides adds, “I believe that you can do anything, and that FFA can show you how.” - John Fannin can be reached at 837-4500 or at


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FFA 2012