Arbuckle hosts 20th agricultural field day

Competitors identify flowers as part of the Floriculture event.

On Saturday, as it has for the past two decades, a school and a community came together to put on one of the largest FFA Field Days in the state, right here in Colusa County.

More than 2,000 people from about 112 schools attended the 20th Annual Arbuckle FFA Field Day this weekend. Among them were 1,700 FFA members from all across California, who competed in 18 different events across a broad range of career and technical fields, from Agricultural Mechanics to Veterinary  Science and everything in between.

Also in Arbuckle on Saturday were a host of special guests, including Kim Vann, Colusa County Supervisor and State Director of the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development; Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; California State Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry; and California State Senator Jim Nielsen.

Saturday’s event was the culmination of nearly seven months of preparation for the event’s student organizers, who were led by chairperson and FFA member Carlyn Marsh. According to the Pierce High School senior, it takes a village.

“It needs collaboration and commitment from probably almost every single person at our school, and probably our entire town to put this thing on,” Marsh said. “We’ve been working on it since August, and students have been working on their events since November… It’s a such a big event, and we pretty much need everyone in the community to work together to make it a success.”

Once again, the student organizers – with the help of their school and community – made the Arbuckle FFA Field Day just that.

“Our kids are amazing and classy,” said Pierce High School principal Nicole Newman wrote of the event. “A school with 434 students hosted more than 2,000 people – students and teachers and community members at the 20th Annual FFA Arbuckle Field Day. We love our school and the community that supports us…”

The FFA Field Day was started in 1998, and was the only agriculture education event of its kind in the state. Students competed in ag mechanics, creed, farm power, veterinary science, forestry, and many other events, which were scattered throughout the campus and inside classrooms.

In recognition of the event’s 20 years of history, there was a historical display paying homage to the Field Day’s storied past. Arbuckle FFA members also presented Cindy Rohde, Arbuckle FFA Ag Mechanics Instructor and Ag Advisor, with a shadowbox and an engraved plaque to express their appreciation for one of the event’s progenitors.

According to Sutter High School’s ag teacher and FFA advisor Mandy Gomes, Sutter’s FFA program has competed at the Arbuckle FFA Field Day for almost the entire 20 years the event has been going on, and it’s always a pleasant experience for advisors and students alike.

“This is a really nice event, with a wide variety of contests, and it is very well run,” Gomes said. “It’s not as big as some of the contests throughout the state, but it’s still very large, and has a very nice hometown feel. Compared to the Field Days at locations like Davis, where everything is kind of spread out, everything here is in close proximity, where you can see all kinds of people from around our region, section, and throughout the state.”

Gomes said that for the first time in her memory, there was a waiting list for certain events this year, pointing to the fact that the event is continuing to grow, drawing more students and getting larger every year.

For Pierce’s Marsh, the Arbuckle FFA Field Day marks the beginning of the end for both her high school and FFA careers.

“We talk about it, and Field Day has always been marked as the beginning of the end,” Marsh said. “It’s the last big event I will put on for my time in FFA… Four years – sometimes four years seems long, and sometimes it seems short – but that’s what makes the (FFA) experience so special. You only have four years to see yourself grow… But the turnaround you experience in this organization sets you up and grooms you as a person to see this exponential growth. I think it’s really incredible.”

Luckily, a Pierce High School junior is already waiting in the wings, ready to step up as chairman and help push the Arbuckle FFA Field Day into the next generation of excellence.

“It will be Anthony Labrecque next year,” Marsh said. “And next year, some junior is going to get a phone call asking them to be chairmen the next year.”■

Brian Pearson is the former Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects included reporting local government and the sports page.