There may have been a small crowd at Pocahontas County High School Sunday afternoon for the FFA Banquet, but there was a lot to celebrate. The members of the FFA Chapter have had a busy year, which resulted in many accomplishments.
FFA advisor Andy Friel led the awards ceremony and recognized the members who have been busy raising livestock, learning about the history and traditions of FFA and succeeding at running their own businesses.
First were those who earned the Greenhand Degree. In order to receive the Greenhand, students must learn the FFA creed and motto, the history of FFA and pass a test.
A total of 22 students earned the Greenhand Degree, but only three were in attendance at the banquet. Receiving the degree in person were Kirsten Friel, Wendy Oscar and Breanna Cochran.
A Star Greenhand Award is presented to the student who had top honors in class and excelled in learning about FFA.
Breanna Cochran received a special plaque made by business education teacher Cammy Kesterson on her 3D printer.
“I did not make it to the creed competition this year, but if I had, Breanna Cochran would have competed as our speaker for the creed,” Friel said. “She has carried more than a one-hundred percent average in my class all year. I think there are good things to come from this individual.”
The Chapter Degree is presented to students who have invested a certain amount of money and hours into their SAE – Specialized Agricultural Experience – projects. The award was earned by Hannah Burks, Jessica Armstrong, Sara Stull, Makayla Ervine and Traves Lewis.
Students submit applications for proficiency awards and explain what they have done to qualify for it. Those who received proficiency awards were Makayla Ervine for special animal production; Hannah Burks for goat production; Jessica Armstrong for beef production; Sara Stull for poultry production; Traves Lewis for diversified animal production; and Lillian Stephens for equine science.
Although they weren’t on the program, Friel presented several other awards to students for their hard work this past school year.
“This is my first year doing this,” Friel said. “This is the first banquet I’ve been to since 1993, so there’s going to be things that I forget.
“One individual sold over a third of the fruit that was sold by our chapter this year. That’s quite a big feat for one person to sell that much fruit and amazing enough, when she came in, she had it all organized, had all the money exactly right and everything. I’d like to recognize Sara Stull for her sales.”
Friel also recognized FFA officers Logan Wimer and Lillian Stephens for their volunteer work in the community, specifically as junior members of the Marlinton Fire Department.
“There’s one more person that came to mind when I was thinking about these, and it’s a gentleman who had his picture in the paper for helping raise money here at the school,” Friel said. “He’s always involved out in the community and probably doesn’t get a whole lot of recognition for it – William Gage Wilson.”
Along with honoring students, Friel recognized several community members for their support of the FFA Chapter.
He presented honorary chapter awards to Tom and Dotsy Fraker, a couple who donated a large sum of money to the FFA Chapter for its scholarship program.
“Super excited to have them in our county,” Friel said. “They made a donation which got our scholarship program fully vested, so we’ll be giving a scholarship this year at the senior awards night based on that investment. We’d like to honor Dotsy and Tom Fraker for all their help and look forward to working with you all in the future.”
Friel explained that retired FFA advisor Erwin Berry donated a ham for the ham, bacon and egg sale and the funds raised from the sale of the ham also went toward the scholarship fund. This year, Friel explained, the funding from the scholarship ham will help a student who doesn’t have a farm or location to raise a pig, to have a pig for next year’s ham, bacon and egg sale.
The student will be able to keep all but one ham from the pig for his or her own profit. The remaining ham will be sold as the scholarship ham to continue the new program.
“We had two businesses bidding on [the scholarship ham],” Friel said. “I was talking to the one gentleman and he said, ‘When it said scholarship ham, I was going to buy it. The amount wasn’t a question. I was going to buy it.’ I never dreamed that this ham would bring $1,860.”
The scholarship ham was purchased by Southern States, represented by Robert Lee. Friel asked the banquet hall to give Southern States a round of applause for its support of the FFA Chapter.
Friel then recognized the retiring officers and announced the new officers for the 2022-2023 school year.
Retiring officers are: President, Lillian Stephens; Vice President, Traves Lewis; Secretary, Makayla Ervine; Treasurer, Logan Wimer; Reporter, Sara Stull; Sentinel, Hannah Burks; and Parliamentarian, Jessica Armstrong.
Next year’s officers are: President, Traves Lewis; Vice President, Sara Stull; Secretary, Jessica Armstrong; Treasurer, Hannah Burks; Reporter, Kirsten Friel; Sentinel, Logan Wimer; and Parliamentarian, Taylor Friel.
Before closing the banquet, Friel had one last individual he wanted to recognize.
“We need to recognize that this program wouldn’t be where it is today without several people in this room, but most recently – Mr. Berry,” he said. “He left me a program that was already up and running and hitting on all cylinders. The students miss him an awful lot, I can tell you that.
“I’m really lucky to have him as an advisor,” he continued. “Whenever I need help, he’s always there to give me a little advice and push me in the right direction. He might have to push a little harder than what he has been, but we really want to express how happy we are that he’s still involved with our program and how lucky we are. We really appreciate where he took the program and I hope that we can continue to move forward in that direction.”
The banquet meal was prepared and served by the PCHS ProStart program, led by instructor Teresa Mullen. Serving the meal were Jersey Simmons, Addie Warner, Lacey Stewart, Hannah Bosley, Jenna Baxter and Sierra Cassell.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org