Local FFA members, chapters well represented at state convention

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saline County was well represented at the annual Missouri FFA Convention, with three chapters being ranked in the top 10 percent, a local girl being named state secretary and several teams and individuals scoring top ten finishes. The two-day convention was held April 14-15 in Columbia.

At the final session on Friday evening, Sweet Springs freshman Heath Snider won first place in the state Creed Speaking contest. He was honored on stage, with the state's other top six creed speakers. Snider had previously won both the Area 6 and Central District contest.

The Marshall FFA Agriculture Issues team, consisting of Austin Thiel, Blayne Vogel, Melba Jones, Kaitlyn Smith, Rob Gorrell and Kaylee Kipping, also were honored at the Friday session, placing 5th place overall. The final standings were announced on Friday evening, as team members of the top six teams were introduced on stage at the convention.

On Thursday, April 14, the Sweet Springs chapter learned they had accomplished a great feat by again being named the state's Chapter Activities Award winner for the fourth year in a row. The award is given to the top 10 percent of the state's 326 FFA chapters.

It is such a great honor," said Kristen Fenner, one of the Sweet Springs advisors. "If it wasn't for the FFA members and the support from their parents and the community, it would not be possible."

While this isn't the first time that FFA chapters have won in four consecutive years, according to the chapter's other advisor Brent Niemeyer, for the Sweet Springs seniors it was very special.

"We had several of them that were there yesterday and that was one of the things they kept talking about," he said. "So they were really excited about the fact they can say they were number one all four years they were in high school."

Niemeyer said while they had hoped that they might have a chance to repeat the honor, they knew the odds were probably stacked against them because of the other great programs in the state.

"We always like to think we have a chance, but the odds are stacked against you to begin with" he said, noting all the other great chapters in the top 10, as well as the state's 326 chapters.

"Just like Marshall FFA, we know what a great chapter they are," he said.

The state also recognized the Marshall FFA's accomplishments, ranking them as the 7th best chapter in the state for 2011. Marshall has been steadily rising in the rankings in recent years, being named 13th in 2009 and 9th in 2010.

"Obviously we want to try to improve every year and we've done that," said Jason Price, one of Marshall's advisors along with Callie Dobbins and Randy Plattner.

"We're excited. It's always good, like Niemeyer said, to be in the top 10. Anything above that is even better, just like icing on the cake," he said. "It's just a compliment to our teachers, our kids, our parents and our support group."

The Slater FFA chapter was also ranked as one of the state's top chapters, taking 25th place overall.

"In Saline County we have three chapters in the top 10 percent, so that just shows how strong our programs are here," noted Price.

Saline County has also been well represented in recent years on the state FFA officer team and this year was no exception.

Kelsey Forqueran, of Malta Bend FFA, found out she will be the Missouri FFA secretary for the 2011-2012 year. She learned after Area 6 interviews a few weeks ago that she would be a one of 16 state officers, representing 25,000 FFA members. However, after interviews on Thursday morning at the convention, she was named to one of the top three state offices, which also includes the president and first-vice president. The remaining 13 state officers will serve as vice-presidents.

Her chapter advisor, Terry Jenkins, acknowledged what a great honor it was for the senior Malta Bend member.

"To get nominated as a state officer is quite a big deal," he said. "Kelsey did really well."

In an interview on Friday morning, Forqueran, the daughter of Jamie and Doreena Forqueran of Malta Bend, said "she was surprised" to learn she had been named to one of the top three offices.

"I got a chance to interact with the other candidates that (Thursday) morning and any of us would have been great. It was really surprising to be picked out of that many candidates."

In fact, when her named was called at the Thursday session, she said she was "shocked" and "excited."

"They called my name and I thought 'Darn that wasn't my name', and it took a second and I thought, 'Whoa, that was my name,'" she said.

The Marshall Democrat-News will be featuring more on Forqueran and her new duties as a state officer in the Monday, April 18 edition of newspaper.

Although not all the contests are completed, some area individuals and teams already know they have placed in the top six in state contests.

Marshall FFA freshman Kayla Elson was the fourth high individual in Horses, taking a Gold, Group I rating. The team placed 28th overall.

Malta Bend's Horse Judging team, which had won the district competition, placed fourth overall in state. Team member Dawn Gorrell was 8th overall, Bristol Rigby placed 21st, followed by Jessie Gorrell, who came in 40th. Those individuals all earned Gold, Group I ratings. Danielle Kiser was 68th overall, also placing her in the top 25 percent in the state.

"I knew they were a pretty good team, but I didn't know how good. I'm pretty proud of them," said Jenkins, adding they were just two points away from being in the state's top three, where they would have been honored on stage, and just six points away from placing second overall.

Also on Friday evening at the state convention, 22 youth from the area earned the state FFA Degree.

For more information on the Missouri FFA convention go to: http://agebb.missouri.edu/news/moffaconv...

For more CDE team results go to: https://www.judgingcard.com/Results/Even...

Contact Marcia Gorrell at mgorrell@marshallnews.com