The Pocahontas County High School FFA Chapter banquet was held last Friday and students were honored for their many achievements. Receiving the Scholarship Award, from left: Mathias Solliday, Charity Morrison, Silas Riley and Max Irvine. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

It was a time for reflection and celebration last Friday at the Pocahontas County High School FFA Chapter annual banquet.

Students were honored for their efforts in the past year – whether it was for faring well at competitions or working hard on their livestock, horticulture and other ag-related ventures.

The evening began with greetings from principal Joe Riley, who is both a former PCHS FFA member and advisor.

“It’s always good to be back among the blue and gold,” he said. “I feel like FFA really shaped my future and where I am right now. I look at the motto on the back wall [Learning to do, Doing to learn, Earning to live, Living to serve] and I was thinking to myself, if we as a school system across the state of West Virginia took that to heart, where would our schools be? That right there is what needs to happen. I think that’s what you learn in FFA.”

Among the many guests at the banquet was West Virginia Department of Education director of agriculture education, Jason Hughes. Hughes presented the Star Greenhand and Star Chapter Farmer awards.

“[Erwin] Berry was bragging on the kids, and I was going to do that, too,” Hughes said. “I get to see them out and about at state events, and when I make school visits. You have wonderful kids. You are also very blessed to have wonderful educators here at this school. I’ve known Mr. Riley for many years. We have a tight knit ag-ed family in this state. That man was my student teacher when I was in my senior year of high school, so we go way back.

“Mr. Berry, [Scott] Garber – two wonderful teachers,” he continued. “They love what they teach, and they love who they teach. They’re compassionate, sincere and wonderful men, so you’re very blessed.”

The Star Greenhand award is presented to a first-year member who has fared well in the club and in their ag classes. This year’s recipient is Jennalee Meck.

The Star Chapter Farmer award is presented to an FFA member who has stellar leadership skills and had a great SAE [Supervised Agriculture Experience]. This year, the award was presented to Charity Morrison.

Chapter members and advisor Erwin Berry presented the rest of the awards.

Jacob Kinnison received the Leadership Award for his willingness to help others and his continued service in his community and to the chapter.

Scholarship awards are presented to a student from each grade with the highest grade point average [GPA]. This year’s recipients were: freshman Max Irvine, with a GPA of 3.9; sophomore Silas Riley, with a GPA of 3.9; junior Charity Morrison, with a GPA of 4.1; and senior Mathias Solliday, with a GPA of 4.2.

The Greenhand Degree is presented to students who are regularly involved in ag classes, learn and explain the FFA creed and motto, have an SAE and understand the FFA emblem and its colors. Recipients are: Allyson Alderman, Ethan Armstrong, Tony Duncan, Max Irvine, Matthew Hipes, Haley McLaughlin, Jennalee Meck, Hazel Riley, Silas Riley, Lilly Stephens, Jacob Taylor, Kinley Taylor, Cierra Wilfong, Kolton Workman and Takayla Tincher.

The Chapter FFA Degree is presented to FFA members who have received the Greenhand Degree, have completed at least one year of ag science classes, operates their own SAE, are currently enrolled in ag science classes, understand parliamentary law and have earned at least $150 in their SAE.

The degree was presented to: Kolton Alderman, Keaton Baldwin, Arianya Cagle, Bridget Carroll, Bryson Cassell, Jacob Kinnison and Andrew Via.

Along with participating in club activities and classwork, students also participate in Career and Leadership Development Events [CDE]. The events are competitions on the state and national level.

Competing this year were: 

– Equine judging: Noah Barkley, Ben Davis, Charity Morrison and Trevor Wilson. The team placed first in the state and 21st in the nation.

– Forestry: Mathias Soliday, Kyle Cohenour, Brandon Puffenbarger and Jacob Jones. The team placed first in the nation. Forestry teacher Scott Garber recognized the team and added that Puffenbarger was the top forestry student in the state.

– Creed speaking: Lilly Stephens and Jennalee Meck.

– Tractor driving: Keaton Baldwin, Kolton Workman, Kolton Alderman and Bryson Cassell.

– Livestock: Ben Davis, Bryson Cassell, Jacob Kinnison and Noah Barkley.

Students who are agriculture completers were recognized for their efforts – Noah Barkley, Arianya Cagle, Aliza Carr, Bridget Carroll, Ben Davis, Carrisa Grimes, Ryan Peters, Irish Simmons, Takayla Tincher, Kolton Workman, Kolton Alderman, Keaton Baldwin, Bryson Cassell, Jacob Kinnison, Charity Morrison and Bub Murray.

The top citrus sales person was Jaylee Doss. The citrus sales grossed more than $20,000 for the Chapter this year.

Berry presented the following Proficiency Awards. The awards are presented to students who complete a successful SAE, complete with correct financial record. They must fill out an application in order to be considered for the award.

Ariayna Cagle – agribusiness sales; David Jordan – ag mechanics and sheep production; Charity Morrison – beef production, diversified livestock, forage production and poultry production; Ben Davis – beef placement; Andrew Via – ag mechanics placement; Bryson Cassell – outdoor recreation; Irish Simmons – small animal care; Noah Barkley – sheep production; Caitlin Moyers – swine production and meats lab production; Charity Warder – swine production; Aliza Carr – goat production; Bob Murray – meats lab production; and Jacob Taylor – floriculture.

While the banquet was a time for the students to be recognized for their achievements, it was also an opportunity for the students to show their appreciation to members of the community.

The Chapter presents Horary Degrees to individuals in the community who support the club as volunteers or through their business.

“It is always a pleasure to receive honorary members into the FFA,” Chapter president Ben Davis said. “The purpose of this ceremony is to recognize, from time to time, the efforts made on our behalf.”

This year’s recipients are: Cindy Pritt, Suzanne Stewart, Jim and Kathy Garber, Martha McCray and Adam and Rachel Taylor.

At the end of the banquet, the 2018-2019 officers passed the torch to the 2019-2020 officers who will serve the chapter next school year. Sentinel – Lilly Stephens; Reporter – Allyson Alderman; Treasurer – Jennalee Meck; Secretary – Cierra Wilfong; Vice President – Jacob Kinnison; and President – Charity Morrison.