Marie Rictor will receive Harper FFA's first ever state award later this month. (Photo submitted by Harper Charter School)

HARPER – To be the first in something is an achievement never to be replicated. Some may follow, but only a select few, like Marie Rictor, can ever claim to be the first.

Rictor, a senior at Harper Charter School, will later this month will receive a state degree for FFA accomplishments, an award presented to the top FFA members in a state. Rictor will receive a gold emblem charm recognizing her accomplishment.

“You have to put your heart into it,” Rictor said. “It is a lot of work.”

Rictor will be the first Harper FFA member to receive the state award and the path to the achievement is an interesting one.

Rictor grew up in Monroe before moving to Vale.

“I really have no idea why we moved to Vale,” she said. “My parents just said we were moving one day and we were in Vale.”

She attended Vale High School for two years before transferring to Harper. The two years at Vale High School contributed to her four-year requirement. Harper is only in its third years of having a program.

Rictor’s road to the state award went through chickens. As her state project, Rictor showed Pekin Bantams, a breed from China known primarily as show birds due to the feathering covering their feet and legs.

“I have a breeding trio and do quite a bit of showing,” Rictor said.

In her four years, Rictor participated in 30 activities ranging from judging to showing other animals.

Once the activities and project was completed, she stood before a group of county FFA alumni to present her accomplishments. This group of alumni then recommended her for the state award.

“I worked really hard at it during my freshman year before slacking off my sophomore year,” Rictor admitted. “In my junior year, I really had to do a lot of activities and find the documentation from the past two years to get all this done.”

Rictor’s achievements have not gone unnoticed by her peers.

“This community has never had an FFA program and having her finish the process for a state degree is huge,” said Harper FFA advisor Kristy Riggin. “Due to the work Marie has put in, three kids will probably receive a state degree next year after seeing it has actually happened here at Harper.”

Riggin said Rictor was chapter president last year and continues in the chapter this year, serving as secretary.

“She is pretty amazing,” Riggin said of her newest state honoree.

The chapter started two years ago with just five members, increasing to 14 last year and is rolling along this year with 17 members.

Rictor’s whole life is not finding records from her freshman year. On weekends, she is a waitress at Mal’s Diner in Vale. In addition to FFA, Rictor is also a member of Harper’s auto club and in August, she can be found showing rabbits at the Malheur County Fair as a member of the 4-H Malheur Mavericks.

In May, Rictor will graduate and intends to enter Treasure Valley Community College to study botany.

“I really don’t have a plan where I want to live and study plants. I just want to do it,” Rictor said.

WHAT IT TAKES TO GET A STATE FFA DEGREE:

* Chapter FFA Degree

* Active in FFA for at least two years

* 360 hours of school instruction in agricultural education

* 500 hours worked towards project

* Demonstrated leadership, including 10 hours of parliamentary law, six-minute speech

* Accumulative 2.0 GPA

* Participated in organizing chapter activities, participating in 30.

* Participated in 10 school or community events

* Completed 25 hours of community service

John L. Braese: [email protected]; 541-473-3377.