Hermiston High School FFA Team Places 3rd in National Competition

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The Hermiston FFA Agricultural Issues Forum Team was recognized as the third-place team in the United States at the FFA National Convention on Wednesday. Pictured left to right: Abby Conner, Alexis Leathers, Daytona Tracy, Keeva Hoston, Anna Guerrero, Cidney Estes, and Grant Hills.(Photos courtesy of HSD)

The Hermiston High School FFA Agricultural Issues Forum Team finished third at the FFA National Convention on Wednesday.

A field of the best 16 teams from across the nation faced off in the semi-finals, and Hermiston FFA advanced to the final round to compete against the top four teams.

In the final round, the teams started with a clean slate and their final placings were decided based on their performance in the finals and round of questions. They also performed in front of a brand new panel of judges and, for the first time, a live audience of several thousand FFA members, advisers, and convention guests. After a 24-hour wait, the final placings were announced at the National FFA Convention’s 2nd Business Session in front of a crowd of over 53,000 in Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the Indianapolis Colts). With hundreds of thousands more watching on the FFA live stream and RFD TV, Hermiston FFA was recognized as the third-place team in the United States. The awards presentation also included individual gold medals for the team members and a cash prize for the Hermiston FFA Chapter.

The team consists of Hermiston students and recent graduates who have been competing for more than 10 months to reach this point. The team members are Alexis Leathers, Cidney Estes, Anna Guerrero, Abby Conners, Grant Hills, Daytona Tracy, and Keeva Hoston.

“These students represent some of the best and brightest young minds in the United States,” said Hermiston FFA Adviser Sandy McKay. “I am beyond proud of the hard work and dedication that they have put in to accomplish this amazing achievement.”

The “Ag Issues” Career Development Event requires FFA members to select a contentious issue at the forefront of agriculture, research it, and create a skit with both sides of the issue being debated to demonstrate the pros and cons of the topic. Hermiston chose the emerging vertical farming industry as its topic and compared it to traditional farming in a skit that mimicked a classroom setting.

After performing the skit, the Hermiston Ag Issues Team faced questions from respected industry judges, at each level of competition, to reach the pinnacle of FFA competition – the National Convention stage in Indianapolis.

The Hermiston FFA Agricultural Communications Team won the Silver Team Award and plaque. Pictured left to right: Cadence Cooley, Kylie Temple, Ashlyn Hofbauer, and Elizabeth Doherty.

The Hermiston FFA Agricultural Communications Team also competed at the FFA National Convention on Wednesday. As with the Ag Issues team, this was the semi-final round of the competition after the team previously competed virtually in the regional round of competition earlier this year. A field of the best 16 teams from across the nation faced off in the semi-finals and the competition highlighted some of the best and brightest students in the country. The Hermiston FFA Chapter was recognized as one of the best in the field, as they received the second-highest award possible with a Silver Team Award and plaque. The awards also included individual medals for each team member based on their individual placings.

Participants in the Agricultural Communications Career Development Event (CDE) work as a team of communication consultants to develop a written media plan, present the plan to a panel of judges, and, as individuals, apply what they have learned during practicums, a quiz, and editing exercise. This team CDE challenges students to communicate effectively while advocating to consumers about agriculture and telling the FFA story. Students will use a variety of media in their plans:  social media, broadcast and print advertising, press releases, fliers, brochures, blogging, displays, and more.

The Hermiston FFA team is made up of four students  – Kylie Temple, Ashlyn Hofbauer, Cadence Cooley, and Elizabeth Doherty. The students have been working on this competition for ten months. They won the Oregon state title, moved through the first round of nationals, and competed strongly in the semi-finals round in Indianapolis.

“Both the Agricultural Issues and Communications teams spent countless hours and months preparing,” said Hermiston High School Principal Tom Spoo. “It is impressive how well the kids performed given all the distractions while preparing. I want to thank the HHS staff members, as well as the parents and alumni who have been so supportive in this process and always kept kids first.”

Both teams will be recognized at the Board of Education’s November business meeting on Dec. 13 to highlight their participation and success at the national competition.

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