Local FFA members in Bluegrass State

Students travel to Kentucky, receive honors

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— Members of the Soroco Future Farmers of America Club are in Kentucky this week honoring some of their members, going to seminars and maybe catching a show while they're there.

Tommy Rossi and Melissa Meade of the Soroco FFA are receiving American FFA degrees at the club's national convention in Kentucky.

"It's the highest degree attainable for the FFA," FFA adviser Byron Dean said.

Only 1 percent of all FFA members in America attain the honor, he added.

The award is given to members who go over the top with participation in the FFA, have excellence on "supervised agricultural experience," which are the students' projects they keep record of and to members who have impressed officials in a written application for the degree.

Meade and Rossi are the third and fourth FFA members from Soroco High School to attain the honor since Dean took over the program more than 21 years ago.

Rossi is attending college at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling and Meade is at Front Range Community College in Fort Collins. They couldn't be reached for comment.

To support their fellow FFA members, seniors Hyatt Gates, Tara Allen, Megan Baker, Kaycee Samuelson and Tyler Knott are going to Kentucky as well. They also will attend conferences on leadership, not to mention going to a country-western concert, which the students were quick to mention.

Knott and Rossi also will receive a national proficiency award at the convention. The award reflects their hard work in the record-keeping system for projects they do for the club.

"It's going to be a lot of fun and a good experience for all of us," Samuelson said the day before she left.

The group spent Tuesday night in Denver. On Wednesday morning, the students flew to Cincinnati. Then they drove about 150 miles south to Lexington, Ky., for the conference.

There, 30,000 members will converge for the five-day event, which makes it one of the largest youth conferences in the United States, Dean said.

"And we'll all be dressed the same," Baker said.

That's blue and gold jackets with blue slacks or a skirt.

"It'll be fun," Gates said. "You get to meet a lot of people."

Gates specializes in the agricultural mechanics programs offered through FFA, among other things.

Dean said the trip is as much to receive awards and attend the conferences as it is a chance for the south Routt students to go to different places and have new experiences.

"Traveling," Dean said. "A huge part of this trip is just about traveling."

He hopes the new setting will give the students a chance to develop a strong camaraderie with each other and some of the other 30,000 members who will attend the conference.

He said it also is a good motivating tool for the younger FFA members.

"I hope they can come back and encourage the younger members to work hard so they can go themselves," Dean said.

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