)NYSSA – Nyssa High School’s FFA team has had another successful season, winning the Farm Business Management state contest for the 11th year in a row. Four individuals recognized in the proficiencies category are also eligible to represent Oregon at the national FFA competition in Indianapolis this fall. 

Sara Stephen, a senior, was awarded top honors for her success in her supervised agricultural experience in the category of fruit production.

Stephen’s family owns an orchard, so she was surrounded by peaches and plums growing up. 

“I had a pretty decent understanding of how to manage and take care of an orchard just from growing up around it,” she said. “I was (also) able to work on Beck Farms the past few summers. It was really interesting. It was a lot of labor, that’s for sure.”

But Stephen said a student doesn’t need a farming background to get something out of FFA. 

“FFA is really like any other club, it’s not really just for farmers,” she said. “It’s more of an ag-based club, but it has everything that you need to have a career in life.”

Club advisor and agricultural science teacher Chad Cruickshank agreed. He was awarded Teacher of the Year this year by the Oregon Agriculture Teacher’s Association. 

“We’re just doing a lot of neat things here in Nyssa that are preparing our students for (the real world), because the real world’s a scary place. We’re just trying to prepare our young people to survive,” he said. “You can’t work for minimum wage and support yourself. I’m trying to help these students understand that it’s important to get a certification or go on to some extra schooling, whatever their choice may be. Or if they have an opportunity to step into different leadership roles.”

For Farm Business Management team members, the real-world skills they’re learning through FFA include budgeting, budget analysis, and financial planning. Stephen also cited filling “tax forms and budget sheets, and calculating assets, net worth, and gross income” as part of her training.  

Kailani Schulthies, a senior, said that her experiences with FFA helped her realize her interest in business. 

“It just kind of made sense,” she said. “Like, ‘Oh, I could do this for the rest of my life.’”

Schulthies said that she was grateful for the opportunity to have improved her public speaking via FFA competitions. 

“Because of those speaking competitions, I’ve been able to overcome my fear of public speaking, so it will really help with interviews and jobs and just talking to future employers,” she said.

Both Stephen and Schulthies said that they aren’t sure if they will continue to work in agriculture after high school, but that the lessons they learned with FFA will carry over. 

Cruickshank said that’s in line with his vision for the club. 

“I enjoy just watching the students grow and become young adults that are going to do amazing things in the real world,” he said. “And it’s pretty neat when you can call up your banker and it’s one of your past students.” 

Cruickshank rattled off a long list of other professions his students could end up in: accountant, lawyer, principal, vice principal, counselor, or teacher.

“My hope is that they’re going to follow through with their dreams of what they want to do and what they want to become,” Cruickshank said. “And I hope that they don’t lose focus of that for whatever reason it may be, the challenges that life throws at them. It really makes your heart warm when these kids light up like that and let you know that they're really accomplishing those goals that they set out to do.”

Other Nyssa students who were recognized for their supervised agricultural experiences at this year’s FFA competition included Adriana Desantiago for vegetable production, Victoria Moore for forest management and products, and Qyonee Mitchell for diversified crop production – entrepreneurship. Six students won state degrees, the highest honor given by FFA at the state level. They were Bryan Dorathy, Jaynee Schulthies, Laney Hartley, Porter Carlton, Zachary Dougherty, and Zaria Parker. Qyonee Mitchell won silver honors for her secretary’s book and Austin Romans distinguished himself in the Coop Quiz. 

News tip? Contact Liliana Frankel at [email protected] or 267-981-5577. 

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