CNE FFA members earn Ohio recognition
By Dick Maloney
The state of Clermont Northeastern High School’s FFA chapter is strong, as evidenced by recent accomplishments of chapter members.
Junior Makayla Blankenship and Braydin Pride, officers of the school’s FFA chapter, have earned gold ratings on their officer books. Blankenship is the group’s reporter and Pride is the group’s treasurer. Both will be honored at the Ohio FFA Convention May 4-May 5 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus.
Putting her book together brought back a lot of memories for Blankenship.
“We started off … going through all the photos that we had. And it was really nice getting to see like all of our old memories,” she said. “And (agricultural education teacher and FFA chapter advisor Faith) Stegbauer helped me and we put them all into this cool book, and we had to like write captions and everything. It was really nice.”
Pride, chapter President Will Matthews and junior Rylie Pence will also be honored for earning their state degrees. Each completed Supervised Agricultural Experiences – SAEs – to earn the recognition.
According to ohioffa.org, the State FFA Degree is “the second highest level that can be achieved as an FFA member. This step in the FFA Degree system encourages students to grow and achieve personally toward establishing themselves in an agricultural career.”
Matthews, a junior, logged hours spent working on a farm.
“Harvest time, what we did, what I did every day, spring-time planting season … what we did in wintertime was what we did in the shop. It's really pretty cool getting to see all that progress and getting it put together to the highest degree you can hold in the state.”
Pence raised market goats as part of her SAE, which culminated with an emotional moment.
“Eventually I would show them all summer and then they would end up going to slaughter after I raised them. It's an amazing experience,” she said.
Pride worked on a hay farm. “It was cool seeing all my progression all go together for what was, as Will said, something that is the biggest degree in the state and it's just awesome knowing that it's achievable.”
The students earned their honors, but they praise Stegbauer as the driving force. The first-year agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor has brought new life and perspective to the school’s chapter, which numbers more than 70 members.
“She really turned our program around. Like we were just going down and down. And now … it's truly changed and we're turning into a chapter that people could look up to instead of just, oh, that's Clermont Northeastern. We don't care, but now, people care,” Pence said.
Blankenship said Stegbauer has made students aware of more events in which they can become involved. “So it’s really been nice to be able to go to those,” she said.
“Big, big change,” Pride said.
The FFA students are wrapping up the school year with several events. They just completed their annual strawberry sale, making deliveries March 14. the annual banquet is Thursday, April 20, at which a slate of officers will be installed and awards presented, and then they will go to the state convention.
“State Convention is pretty cool because … you know a lot more people from Ohio, so I mean, it's kind of easier to find people you know, to hang out with and do things with and you see a lot more people you know, and if you meet people there it's a lot easier to kind of meet up with them later on in life, and you'll see a lot more things that are kind of happening in your area,” Matthews said, comparing it to the national convention in the fall.
Stegbauer said the group hopes to tour Ohio State University’s agricultural campus while in Columbus.