Approximately 300 students and parents gathered inside the Bullard Elementary School cafetorium Thursday, May 4, to honor and recognize the achievements made by members of the Bullard High School Future Farmers of America.
The celebration also reflected back on past years, as the BHS FFA organization marked its 77th anniversary this year.
“Our banquet was a great event,” said Stu Dildine, BHS FFA sponsor. “We celebrated the 77th anniversary of the BHS FFA department this year. We are certainly very proud of our students and their accomplishments.”
The organization looked back at their successes in the 2016-2017 school year, which included several leadership development events and career development events advancing to Area and State competition.
The Nursery and Landscape team, consisting of Jenna Fergusson, Taye McCurley, Weston McCullough, and Esau Powell, received first place at the Area VI contest and advanced to state, where they finished 20th overall in Texas FFA. At the Area VI contest, Powell was the highest placing team member, placing fifth, followed by McCurley in sixth place and Fergusson in seventh place.
The Floriculture team, consisting of Elyssia Dotson, Kailey Clarke, and Jarrett Whatley, took home first place at the Area VI contest and advanced to State, where they placed 28th overall in Texas FFA. Dotson was the highest individual at the Area VI contest, while Clarke placed fourth and Whatley placed seventh.
The Farm Business team, consisting of Creighton Galyean, Hannah Sieben, and Raelee Walker, was able to claim a fourth place finish at the Area VI contest and advance to State, where they placed 13th overall in Texas FFA. At the Area VI contest, Gaylean was the ninth place finisher, while Walker placed 12th individually.
The Horse Judging team, consisting of Marissa Self, Peyton Moore, Meagan Hodge, Kylie McKeethan, and Chloe Williams, took home first place at the Area VI competition and advanced to State, where they placed second overall in Texas FFA. At Area VI, Self was the ninth place individual, followed by Hodge, placing 12th; and Moore, placing 14th.
The Livestock Judging team, consisting of Hannah Lloyd, Weston Roach, Hunter Ganske, Nicole Jones, and Hunter Low, was able to finish first overall at the Area VI competition and advance to State, where they placed 21st overall in Texas FFA. At the Area VI contest, Low was the third place individual, while Lloyd placed fifth.
The Agriculture Issues team, consisting of Kailey Clarke, Creighton Galyean, Hannah Lloyd, Hunter Low, Peyton Moore, Mallory Hatcher, and Shelbee Walker, took home second place at the Area VI contest and advanced to State, where the team claimed a 14th place finish.
The Radio Team, consisting of Peyton Moore, Rebeka Newburn, Raelee Walker, and Taye McCurley, placed first at the Area VI competition and advanced to State, where they took home the ninth place rating.
Bullard FFA member Kailey Clarke placed first in Area VI in the Senior Creed Speaking contest, allowing her to advance to State, where she placed 14th overall. Additionally, Hannah Lloyd was able to place first at the Area VI Prepared Public Speaking contest, finishing 11th overall at the State contest, and second in her division.
The organization and its members also reflected on several achievements for the entire chapter this year, including being named National Champions in the Models of Innovation – Student Development category at the National FFA Convention; raising over $70,000 at the annual Bullard FFA Labor and Merchandise Auction; receiving several grand champion and reserve grand champion banners at various livestock shows; receiving over $500,000 from various events throughout the year; being rated at the 10th FFA Chapter in Texas; earning a Three Star Rating and a Texas Gold Rating; and more.
The BHS FFA also awarded students with annual proficiency awards, given to students who show excellent skills in a particular area of agricultural science.
Recipients of the 2017 BHS FFA proficiency awards included Taye McCurley (Agricultural Mechanics Design and Fabrication); Peyton Moore (Agricultural Sales); Nicole Jones (Beef Production and Diversified Livestock Production); Meagan Hodge (Equine Science); Sydney Morris (Goat Production); Sarah Campbell (Home and/or Community Development); Shea Meisenheimer (Landscape Design); Carley Goode (Nursery and Floriculture Operations); Mallory Hatcher (Sheep Production); Hunter Ganske (Vegetable Production); Dalton Russell (Wildlife Production); Marissa Self (Swine Production and Agricultural Communications); Erin Johnson (Agricultural Education); Hunter Low (Outdoor Recreation and Poultry Production); and Rebeka Newburn (Veterinary Science and Forage Production).
The organization also announced several scholarship recipients, including scholarships from the FFA Booster Club, Smith County Youth Expo, the Courtnee Odom Scholarship, and finalists for a scholarship through the Texas FFA.
Students receiving a scholarship through the Smith County Youth Expo included Hannah Lloyd ($1,500); Erin Johnson ($1,000); Rebeka Newburn ($700); and Sarah Campbell ($800).
Hunter Ganske received the Courtnee Odom Scholarship, named after former BHS FFA student Courtnee Odom. The amount of the scholarship is $750.
The organization announced a number of members as finalists for the Texas FFA scholarship, in the amount of $18,000, including Kailey Clarke, Hunter Ganske, Erin Johnson, and Hannah Lloyd. The winners of the scholarship will be announced at a later date.
Bullard FFA members receiving $200 scholarships from the Bullard FFA Booster Club included Kyle Bochow, Kailey Clarke, Sarah Campbell, Hunter Ganske, Carley Goode, Erin Johnson, Hannah Lloyd, Ainsley Mattingly, and Rebeka Newburn.
The BHS FFA also took the time to honor members of the community who have made a positive impact on the organization this year.
Todd Taylor was awarded the organization’s Honorary Chapter Degree. According to the BHS FFA, the Honorary Chapter Degree is the highest degree a local FFA may bestow upon an adult supporter of the program. Nominated by the local FFA chapter, the recipient must have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
Diana Russell, was awarded the organization’s Chapter Mother award. According to the BHS FFA, Russell has been an outstanding supporter of the local FFA chapter for many years, always involved in activities, and is available all the time.
The BHS FFA also honored two of their own, as Hatcher was recognized for having been a District Advisor in the Mineola District FFA chapters in the 2016-2017 school year, while Nicole Jones was introduced as a 2017-2018 Mineola District FFA officer.
At the end of the night, the BHS FFA sponsors awarded retiring officer plaques to the 2016-2017 BHS FFA officers. BHS FFA retiring officers included Erin Johnson, president; Lloyd, co-vice president; Newburn, co-vice president; Roach, secretary; Hunter Ganske, treasurer; Kelsey Drake, reporter; Kolton Beam, sentinel; Lauren Shanholtz, historian; Nicole Jones, chaplain; and Hunter Low, agricultural ambassador.
The FFA members that will compose the 2017-2018 BHS FFA officer corps was also introduced to the audience. BHS FFA officers include Roach, president; Jones, vice president; Peyton Moore, secretary; Marissa Self, treasurer; Low, reporter; Taye McCurley, sentinel; Dalton Russell, chaplain; Heather Coe, historian; Livi Abercrombie, recruitment and retention committee chairman; Brandon Shanholtz, committee person; and Gavin Watson, appointed committee person.