WALLOWA COUNTY — FFA students from all over Oregon participated in the 88th Oregon FFA State Convention, held virtually March 18-21, from Oregon State University in Corvallis. This year’s convention was held remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Chelcee Mansfield, FFA adviser at Joseph Charter School, said the chapter received a Superior Chapter Award, as well as a Gold National Chapter Award during the event. The chapter’s beginning parliamentary procedure team placed second, and Anabelle Russell placed fifth in advanced public speaking.

Joseph had five proficiency finalists who were state winners: Anabelle Russell in ag education, Jonah Staigle in agricultural mechanics fabrication, Josey Wearin in beef production placement, Brianna Micka in equine production entrepreneurship and Ian Goodrich in outdoor recreation. Maggie Zacharias placed second in equine production placement.

One of the highlights of the FFA year for Joseph was that Russell was able to get grants to purchase six tower gardens to help educate the school and community about vertical farming. She is growing salad greens, kale and basil with plans to grow cucumbers and tomatoes in this aeroponic system within the school’s greenhouse. She will be providing the school lunch with salad greens. She taught lessons to the high school and eighth-graders and will also work with the elementary students. The food science class made gourmet salads with the greens and chicken basil pizzas.

Of the 240 Oregon FFA members who received their state degrees, 28 were from Wallowa County. The State Degree is the highest degree of FFA membership. The recipients include:

• Addie Royes, Alex Albanez, Alona Yost, Andy Huwe, Bailey Vernam, Carrin Yaw, Caylynn Beck, Destiny Wecks, Dylan Jennings, Flynn Nave, Gaven Winn, Gideon Gray, Grace Collins, Gracie Ellis, Hunter Harvey, Jada Gray, Kasey Duncan, Landon Greenshields, Lannie Stonebrink, Liz Rowley and Rilyn Kirkland of Enterprise.

• Anabelle Russell, Destany Moore, Hayden Hite, Ian Goodrich, Jonah Staigle, Maggie Zacharias and Trace Collier of Joseph.

Wallowa High School’s FFA chapter was largely unable to compete this year, said Jeremy McCulloch, the school’s FFA adviser. He said scheduling conflicts prevented participation in many of the qualification events in the virtual convention.

Wallowa had about a dozen students receive their State Degrees last year and McCulloch expects another large group next year.

“Hopefully they’ll be able to go to a normal convention next year,” he said. “We were kind of on the outside looking in … but our program’s strong.”

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