FFA celebrates 75th anniversary

Welding on a fisheries project during Ag I at Joseph High School Monday morning was Mike Kaup, while Kyle Clough adjusts his hood before picking up his welding torch. Agriculture education and FFA , which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this week, go hand-in-hand in Joseph and Enterprise high schools. Photo by Elane Dickenson

Local FFA members are getting out the message that the National FFA organization is celebrating its 75th anniversary this week.

Joseph chapter officers Anna Yost and Joy Kuppinger spread the word over KWVR Tuesday, noting that FFA was established in 1928, with the Joseph chapter getting its start in 1955. They cited trustworthiness, ability to make decisions and "understanding they are responsible for their own destiny" among traits instilled in members by FFA.

"In Joseph our chapter is very lucky to have a very supportative FFA Alumni Association," the girls said, thanking members for their fund raising activities on the chapter's behalf.

The alumni group is also helping observe National FFA Week by creating a display of FFA banners, pictures and awards in the Wallowa Mountain Properties window in downtown Joseph.

Among the banners was the one earned last week by Beth McClaran, who placed second in sophomore public speaking at the district contest in Imbler. She qualified for sectional competition, held Tuesday in La Grande. District banners were also awarded to Kirk Borgerding and Anna Yost, who tied for third in extemporaneous speaking; and Clayton Lowe, third in sophomore public speaking.

According to Joseph FFA advisor Dave Yost, who has taught agriculture for a total of 17 years at Joseph High School, there are 60-70 chapter members, and even more students enrolled in the seven and a half ag classes he is teaching this year.

All ag classes are currently involved in a major project, the construction of a fish trap for the Nez Perce Fisheries fishery on the Lostine River. Yost said that during the past two years his classes have made fish weirs for the fishery.

Other fabrication projects this year include a metal building to cover the pole vault pit.

Most members of Yost's classes are also members of FFA. Because of budget cuts in the past year, Yost's hours for out-of-class programs were cut this year for a total reduction amounting to 17 percent. However, Yost - an alumni of the Enterprise FFA chapter and the recipient of an honorary American Farmer degree - said he continues to put whatever hours are needed. "I believe strongly in the value of the FFA program," he said.

The Enterprise High School also has a very active FFA program and its ag program was saved from budget cuts this year by the Enterprise Education Foundation. Advisor is Stephanie Scofield, who teaches seven classes at EHS and won a state Young Ag Teacher of the Year Award last year.

Placing at district and qualifying for the sectional competition from the EHS chaper were Chelcee Noland, first in prepared public speaking and Austin Himes, second in extemporaneous speaking. Also qualifying was the Greenhand team, made up of Katrina Anderson, Krista Stangel, Tonya McLaughlin, Brena Bowman, Sara Freels, Adel Nash and alternate Eryn Britton. Krista Stangel also won a third place district banner in public speaking.

The EHS chapter prepared and served a barbecue dinner at a Stockgrower's event this week in conjunction with National FFA Week.

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