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National FFA team earns bronze award


National competition — The five-member environmental science and natural resources team competes at the national convention in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Kent. — While current Oregon FFA state officer Aaron Morland was Newberg’s brightest star, taking third in extemporaneous speaking at the 2013 FFA national convention, he wasn’t the only Tiger to compete or earn recognition Oct. 30-Nov. 2 at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

The Newberg FFA environmental and natural science team also made the cross-country trip to compete, earning a bronze emblem.

The team consisted of two 2013 Newberg High School graduates, Emily Marble (now at Oregon State University) and Mackenzie Gunn, and three juniors — Cayd Erickson, Megan Joyce and Lillia Huiras. Marble, Joyce and Huiras received bronze emblems for their individual performances, while Erickson received silver.

“They worked hard and mainly they came away much better than they were before,” Newberg FFA advisor Bob Beckner said.
“Three of the environmental science kids are key members of our Envirothon team, so they’re eligible to compete again in Envirothon, but once you compete nationally in FFA, you’re done. They were able expand their horizons and learn more because the contest was quite different.”

While Morland and the environmental science and natural resources quintet were the only ones to travel and compete in person at the convention, several other Newberg FFA students earned recognition for their state champion projects, which were submitted and scored over the summer.

Among them was Tia Piscitelli, who earned a silver award for her rabbit and poultry project in the small animal production and care entrepreneurship category.

Four students — Johanna DeJoria, Katie and Karissa Noragon and Cole Evans — were honored for their agriscience research projects, which were previously selected as the best in Oregon in their respective categories.

A junior at NHS, DeJoria received a bronze award in the Animal Systems Division II category for her project on sheep.

NHS Senior Katie Noragon and her sister, sophomore Karissa, created and tested their own cavy feed, earning a bronze award in Division IV of the Animal Systems category.

“I’m trying to get them to sell some of it, because they go to quite a few Cavy shows, and to start marketing it,” Beckner said. “If it’s as good as their data shows, it will blow most everything else out of the water and it’s still economical. If they market it at about the same price as stuff in a bag, they’d be doing well.”

Evans, a sophomore at C.S. Lewis Academy, created and tested an ultraviolet light system that attempted to kill pathogens on fresh produce, like E. Coli on strawberries, for example.

“So far, what he determined was for a small operation or a small business, it’s not economical,” Beckner said. “He was trying it out and he’s got a better one coming this year. He’s working on an engine design that’s interesting. He wants to be an engineer.”

Beckner was also proud that the Newberg chapter helped prepare Madras FFA senior Isaac Fisher for the job interview competition, giving him a trial run in front of one of his Newberg classes in the weeks leading up to the convention. Fisher placed second in the nation.

About 1,000 students from across the country, representing less than 1 percent of the national youth organization’s membership, competed at the convention.

“One of the advantages FFA kids have is they can put down on their resumes or scholarship applications that they competed at state, were state champions or competed at nationals,” Beckner said. “Anyone needs something on a resume that sets you apart.”