95th Annual National FFA Convention

El Centro FFA students stand and receive recognition at the 95th Annual National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.

EL CENTRO — Southwest High School students from the El Centro FFA chapter attended the 95th National FFA Convention from Wednesday, October 26 to Saturday, October 29. 

In order to compete against all 50 states, the Southwest El Centro FFA students worked hard on research projects that involved solving problems in agriculture.

“It was really neat to go on stage and participate in all the festivities with the actual contest, it was a fabulous wonderful time at the national convention,” stated Kristin Mayo, El Centro FFA advisor and Southwest High School teacher. 

Fifteen of the El Centro students placed in the top three of the State Competition and 3 of those fifteen students won.

This ranked among some of the highest accomplishments for many of these students and several  were able to fly out of state for the first time to receive their awards in front of a crowd of over 70,000 people. 

Carleigh Ashurst, an FFA student, won in animal systems and was awarded bronze for her project.

“I felt super accomplished after earning the bronze award. I was happy that I was able to be recognized for a project that I really enjoyed,” said Ashurst. 

Ashurst explained that she worked with two groups of honeybees for her project, feeding them two different protein supplements and analyzing the effects they had in the hives. This helped her understand the work her family does at Bud Ashurst American Honey. 

“It was a super cool experience because I got an insight into what my family does in their jobs,” said Ashurst.

William Lillean and Guillermo Lopez placed 5th in power, structural and technical systems and they qualified to move on to compete at the national level.

“You have to make the top ten in order to go to nationals to compete at the agricultural science contest there in Indianapolis, the boys did place in the top 10, they competed at the national level and talked to industry specialists about their project. They ended up placing 6th overall in the nation,” explained Mayo. 

For their power structural project, they looked at different drill bits for tools that are utilized in mechanic shops for different agriculture systems, they looked at their efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Another student Alyssa Luna was recognized for developing a video that highlighted agriculture in the Imperial Valley and placed 3rd in the national contest.  

“We had five students receive their American degree, that is the highest award you can get in FFA. Less than 1% of all students receive their American degree. Those are student that have graduated, a year after graduating they complete a project that equates to about 25 hours of agriculture work outside of the classroom to receive the degree,” said Mayo. 

Those students were Kallie Thomason, Emiliano Fuchen, Marry Abatti, Lauryn Lazarcik, and Francisco Rocha.

Southwest FFA High School student Kimberly Alvarez was chosen out of 100 applicants to be a National Delegate. According to Alvarez, being a delegate means getting to vote on recommendations that are given to the national board. 

 “34 [delegates] were chosen and I was one of those 34. It was very exciting, especially because I found out with the chapter officer team at our retreat and I had all my best friends and advisors there with me when I found out” stated Alvarez.

It was a high honor for the Southwest El Centro FFA students' achievements to be recognized at the 95th National FFA Convention as they represented the agricultural community of Imperial County.

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