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KHS FFA makes mark at Alaska state conference

May 2, 2017

KHS FFA makes mark at Alaska state conference
By Noelle H. Lowery

In April, Kodiak High School sent a contingent to the Alaska FFA 2017 State Convention, and the KHS students made an indelible impression on their peers and FFA state leadership.

Sophomores Jamie Lee Fabricante, Stephanie Menjivar, Laurene Monzon and Jonalyn Valdez traveled with KHS FFA sponsor and Fisheries teacher Angelica Brown to the FFA state conference, which is held each year at the University of Alaska Experiment Farm and the MATSU College in Palmer.

The students competed as a team in the Environmental and Natural Resources Career Development Event (CDE), placing third overall. Individually, Monzon won the Floral Design portion of the Floriculture CDE, and Fabricante was named a “Premier Leadership Member” for the outstanding leadership displayed throughout the convention. Fabricante also sat on the nominating committee for the new state FFA officers, which include college-bound seniors.

Once know as “Future Farmers of America,” the National FFA Organization has evolved with the ever-changing landscape of agriculture in the United States. The group is not just for students who want to be production farmers, but also those who aspire to be teachers, doctors, scientists, business owners and more.

In fact, Brown points out, “FFA is the largest student-run organization in the country, and its presence is quickly growing in Alaska.” Chartered in 1976, the Alaska FFA Association has nearly 300 participating students in 13 active chapters all across the state.
Today, its membership and mission reflect the growing diversity and new opportunities in agricultural career pathways, and the organization is “committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.”

“Most people think of agriculture as farming and food, when in fact it’s so much more than that,” explains Brown. “It’s the clothing you wear. It’s welding farm equipment. It’s fishing, soil identification, wildlife management, food production, genetics, businesses. FFA teaches students how to be the best person they can be by learning how they can better serve their community, all through agricultural education.”

As such, FFA members participate in CDE’s during state and national conferences that reflect the many possible agricultural career pathways students can choose, including Environmental and Natural Resources; Floriculture; Marine Technology; Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems; Farm Business Management; Public Speaking; Job Interviewing; and Veterinary Science.

Brown believes all of these areas apply on Kodiak. “I’d love for the community to think of agriculture through a different lens. Kodiak is unique. If you’re a fisherman or connected with the fishing industry in any way, you’re involved with agriculture,” she says.

This extends to the natural resource that Kodiak Island is and to the efforts to preserve it. Specifically, the Environmental and Natural Resource Education component of FFA helps students understand how to identify local of flora and fauna, test the soil and provide its profile, analyze the air and water, explore local eco-systems, and define how to best manage waste to minimize damage to the resources. On Kodiak, this encompasses local fisheries, the lumber industry, wildlife and public land management, as well as everyday life.

Now back at KHS, the students and Brown are very grateful for the opportunity to attend the Alaska FFA 2017 State Convention, but they are not resting on their laurels. Fabricante, Menjivar, Monzon and Valdez already are prepping for next year’s FFA state convention, focusing on Natural Resources and Floriculture with the ultimate hope of qualifying for national competition.

Brown recognizes that it would not be possible for her students to have these experiences without the support of the Kodiak community. “I would like to thank the community for its support in helping these four outstanding young ladies attend state convention,” she says. “All the donations and support through fundraisers have been extremely helpful in giving these students a great learning and growing opportunity. In just five short days, I saw these ladies grow so much, and it’s incredible.”
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