By Las Cruces High School FFA Member Alicia Castaneda

LAS CRUCES – At the 85th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, October 21-28, 2012, the Las Cruces High School FFA horse-judging team found themselves competing among the nation’s top teams. The four team members, Alicia Castañeda, Cassie Gallegos, Hallie Padilla and Molly Williams brought home many awards.

The team achieved an overall gold ranking, placing 13th. Hallie Padilla ranked gold individually, and Alicia, Cassie and Molly ranked silver. The contest consisted of the live evaluation of halter and performance horses, oral reasons, industry-based scenarios and written and practical tests.

Also, Ashley Achen, Jonny Beard, Sharlae Brown, Alicia Castañeda, Chase Griffiths, Justin Hettinga, Sedona Jurney, Landon Prouty, Samee Soto, Maria Stout, Hallie Padilla and Molly Williams participated in the National FFA Courtesy Corps. Students volunteer their time to help facilitate activities to ensure a smooth-running convention. These students received certificates and award pins to add to their FFA jackets.

Joslyn Beard, Randi Simpson and Jeremy Witte received the highest degree bestowed to an FFA member: the American degree, which only 3,000 members out of 540,000 total receive. The American degree is awarded based on leadership, supervised agriculture experience and community service hours and dollars.

The Las Cruces High School FFA members and alumni are very honored that every FFA student from LCHS participated in convention activities or was awarded in some fashion.

While attending the convention, members also participated in leadership workshops to bring new and fresh ideas back home. The workshops vary from business etiquette to FFA scholarship programs and agribusiness and leadership skills. We were also able to attend the third session where the New Mexico State University Dean of Agriculture, Dr. Lowell Catlett, was the inspirational speaker of the night. He shared his thoughts on progressive agricultural concepts. These thoughts and ideas will be implemented in our FFA chapter to keep improving and growing the program.

Even though some members went strictly to compete while others went for fun, they all had the opportunity to tour the St. Louis Gateway Arch, Fair Oaks Dairy and The Joplin Regional Stockyards. Students toured the arch and were able to view the City of St. Louis as well as learn about one of America’s greatest landmarks. While at the dairy, which happens to be the largest dairy in the Midwest, they toured the barns, witnessed the birth of calves and sampled cheese and milk produced by dairy. Joplin Regional Stockyards is one of the largest cattle sale barns in the United States. Students had the fortunate opportunity to see a sale being conducted, along with enjoying a nice breakfast, followed by a tour of the facilities

For more information, call Las Cruces High School at 575.527.9400.