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Steak dinner and auction concludes 7th Houston E. Mull FFA Memorial Scholarship trail ride (Updated 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

On Saturday, Nov. 5, riders of all ages enjoyed the mild weather and beautiful scenery during the 7th Houston E. Mull FFA Memorial Scholarship Trail Ride. For the second year in a row, the ride was held at the farm of Bill and Mary Lou Paxton near Marshall Junction.
More than 300 people attended a steak dinner and auction at the Saline County Fairground on Saturday, Nov. 5, to conclude the seventh Houston E. Mull FFA Memorial Scholarship Trail Ride.

Although the final total hasn't been tallied yet, organizers said they were very pleased with the turnout.

All proceeds from the event go toward scholarships for local FFA students. The preliminary tally indicated about $10,000 was raised.

The day began at 7 a.m. with an all-you-can-eat breakfast served by area FFA chapters at the fairground, where many riders camped for the weekend.

More than 110 people attended the breakfast, according to Marshall FFA Advisor Randy Plattner. Approximately 450 people attended the steak dinner Saturday evening.

At 10 a.m., approximately 100 horses and riders, and a few riders on wagons, gathered at the Bill and Mary Lou Paxton Farm near Marshall Junction. The riders rode for about three hours on the farm located in the hills above the Blackwater River.

Each year since the first Houston E. Mull Memorial FFA Scholarship Trail Ride, twins Greta Strait of Stover and Gayle Dobbins of Gilliam, have ridden along on a wagon. Although they were raised on a farm near Mendon, they joked, they are "a little too short" to ride on a horse.
Gayle Dobbins of Gilliam is just one of the many who has attended the Houston E. Mull FFA Memorial Scholarship ride every year since it began in 2004. Until last year, the event also included a cattle drive.

"When I heard they were having a cattle drive the first year, I went to the highway maintenance shed where they brought the cattle across there," she said. "I didn't ride. I just watched then. They didn't have any wagons that first year."

Since that time, Dobbins and her twin sister, Greta Strait of Stover, have ridden on a wagon each year of the event.

"We love riding the wagons," said Dobbins, during a lunch break on Saturday's ride.

"There is usually a wagon load, and we get to meet a lot of people and have fun," said Strait. "It's just a day of being free."

Dobbins participated the first year because she heard about Houston's death. The 15-year-old Marshall High School FFA member was killed in a car accident on July 1, 2004. She also knew the money raised would go for a scholarship in his honor.

"I didn't know Houston, and I didn't know his family, but it just struck my heart," she said.

In 2010, the cattle drive turned into a trail ride on the Paxton Farm.

On Saturday, the riders again enjoyed the fall scenery and mild weather.

"It's just for a good cause, and it gives me another reason to enjoy the day off and enjoy the time and weather," said T.J. Campbell of Marshall. He is one of the many Saline County students who have received a scholarship from the event.

"It's an honor to get the scholarship," said Campbell, a student at State Fair Community College and a 2008 graduate of Marshall High School.

Since its inception, the event has funded about $72,500 in scholarships given to dozens of Saline County high school seniors and college students.

In 2010, 19 FFA members from Marshall, Malta Bend, Slater, Sweet Springs and Santa Fe high schools were awarded $500 or $1,000 scholarships.

The college and continuing college scholarships are given to those interested in pursuing a career in agriculture.

Photos from the event can be found at http://www.marshallnews.com/gallery/9899 and http://www.marshallnews.com/gallery/9901

Contact Marcia Gorrell at mgorrell@marshallnews.com

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