Pierce High School was swimming in blue FFA jackets on Saturday as 1,700 high school students from around the state showed up in the rain to compete in agricultural-based contests ranging from floriculture and veterinary science to public speaking and welding.
The weather started out a little rough Saturday morning, said Pierce High School Junior Alli Lux, who chaired the annual Arbuckle FFA Agriculture Technology Field Day, but clearer skies midmorning allowed the event, now in its 21st year, to run like clockwork.
Lux said FFA members from 160 schools participated in the judged events, geared at teaching youth leadership skills, the spirit of competition, and the delights of working in agriculture.
“The event is primarily to emphasize agriculture jobs,” Lux said. “It’s also about knowledge and growth.”
The FFA Field Day was started in 1998, and was the only agricultural education event of its kind in California.
The daylong event takes months to plan and dozens of donors, judges, and volunteers.
“It’s just a big community effort,” Lux said. “It’s really nice that so many people come together and put this on every year.”
Students competed in Ag mechanics, farm power, forestry, and many other events that were scattered throughout the campus and inside classrooms.
Arie Prins, 17, a junior at Tulare High School and FFA chapter sentinel, has been in the FFA organization for three years.
Saturday was Prins’ second year competing at the Arbuckle Field Day, and he said he enjoyed operating a backhoe in the farm power event the most.
“It was a little hard at first getting used to the controls, but after that it was easy,” he said.
Prins will graduate in 2020 and plans to attend the Caterpillar Academy at Reedley College.
Until then, he plans to attend additional competitions while focusing on FFA and a career in agriculture.
“I hope to be chapter president next year,” he said.
Newcomers to the event included Maxwell High School freshmen Paige Vierra, Laisha Izquierdo, and Madison Pearson, who competed only in reciting the FFA creed, written nearly 90 years ago by E.M. Tiffany.
“It was a little nerve-wracking but it was a lot of fun,” Vierra said.
All three Maxwell students enjoyed watching the other competitions, knowing that FFA will continue to be a big part of their high school experience for the next 3 years.
“I just want to grow as a leader, meet new friends, and try new things, because it’s definitely an eye opening experience,” Vierra added.
Izquierdo and Pearson said they look forward to raising market animals for the Colusa County Fair as part of their FFA experience.
This year is Izquierdo’s first raising a pig, while Pearson comes from a long 4-H lamb project background. Pearson will take a lamb to the fair for the first time this year as a member of Maxwell’s FFA.
The annual Arbuckle FFA Field Day culminated with a barbecue that fed more than 2,000 people as volunteers and competitors wrapped up another successful event.
“I hoped everyone loved it,” Lux said. “We worked really hard on it. I have to thank (FFA Adviser) Cindy Rohde and the entire community. This would be impossible without them.” ■