Eagles soar at National FFA Convention

TOP ROW, FROM LEFT: Daniela Bastidas, Andrew Angulo, Francisco Rocha and Madison Mills BOTTOM ROW: Ivanna Valenzuela, Kandyce Johnston, Malei Tipton and Mirella Saasta

Last year, the pandemic put many barriers in place of schools across the country remaining involved and active in clubs and organizations. This was not the case for El Centro FFA of Southwest High School. They found unique ways to engage students and help them soar. In late October, eight members will take the national stage at the National FFA Convention & Expo as they showcase their hard work and efforts this past year.

The 94th National FFA Convention will be held Oct. 27-30 in Indianapolis, Ind. With five American FFA Degree recipients, two national delegates, and one national proficiency award finalist, El Centro will definitely be making a splash at this year’s convention.

Seniors Daniela Bastidas and Andrew Angulo from the El Centro FFA chapter were selected to serve as national delegates at the convention. In three weeks, both students will fly to Indiana to participate in national delegate meetings.

Daniela and Andrew are two of 38 students selected to represent California FFA. The National FFA Delegate Experience ensures that the National FFA organization remains a student-led organization that serves students across the United States, reaching from the state of Alaska to Puerto Rico, and from the state of Maine to Hawaii. Each year, during the National FFA Convention & Expo, the delegate experience brings together 475 student leaders from across the nation. Delegates come from each of the organization’s 52 state associations to share ideas and perspectives that propel the organization forward. Each year, California FFA Association elects a limited number of students across the state to represent the state at the national level.

This year, Francisco Rocha of the El Centro FFA chapter placed first in California for the Agricultural Processing Proficiency Award. He has moved onto the national level and has qualified among the top four in the nation for this proficiency area. He will take stage Oct. 28 to learn whether he is the national Agricultural Processing Proficiency Award winner.

Agricultural Proficiency Awards honor FFA members who, through supervised agricultural experiences, have developed specialized skills they can apply toward their future careers. Nationally, students can compete for awards in nearly 50 areas, ranging from agricultural communications to wildlife management. Proficiency awards are also recognized at local and state levels and highlight members who are exploring and becoming established in agricultural career pathways.

Each year, the National FFA Organization honors FFA members who show the utmost dedication to the organization through their desire to develop their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.The American FFA Degree is bestowed upon a select group of students in recognition of their years of academic and professional excellence.

This year 3,863 members will be awarded their American Degrees. El Centro FFA members Madison Mills, Ivanna Valenzuela, Kandyce Johnston, Malei Tipton and Mirella Saasta will be part of that group. To be eligible, FFA members must have earned and productively invested $10,000 through a supervised agricultural experience program in which they own their own business or hold a professional position as an employee. Recipients must also complete 50 hours community service and demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities and civic involvement through completion of a long list of FFA and community activities.

Fewer than 1 percent of FFA members achieve the American FFA Degree. Each recipient of the American FFA Degree receives a gold American FFA Degree key and certificate after being recognized at the National Convention. This is the largest group of members El Centro FFA to earn their American Degree since the chapter's inception in 1930.

Past El Centro FFA American Degree recipients

1939- Yoshiyo Tsujimoto

1940- Henry House

1943- Stanley Scaroni

1991- Travis L. Metcalf

1992- Elizabeth Hinojosa

1994- Travis Gorham

1995- Jeremy Gorham

1999- Shanna Abatti, Tony Abatti

2003- Garrett Bishop, Justin Pritchard, Stacey Willis

2004- Max Sheffield

2005- Kelly Bishop, Bethany Johnson

2006- Erica Barioni

2007- Brittany Burgan

2008- Russell Davis

2011- Allison Cameron

2020- Kalynn Johnson

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