FFA Chapters Across Hawai’i Compete at State Convention

Trey Yamamoto, Reporter

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    From April 3 to 5, the Future Farmers of America (FFA) held their state convention at McKinley High School. FFA chapters from MHS, across Oahu, and other neighboring islands participated in the event. The convention was a gathering for all the FFA chapters across Hawai’i to compete against each other in a variety of activities, or in their Career Development Events (CDE). The categories judged consisted of Agricultural Demonstration, Plant Identification, Corsage Making, Prepared Speaking and Creed Recitation.

    “So FFA I think is a great organization, they really helped push the students in a path that I think, if they want to go into agriculture when they graduate from high school, they kind of know what to do, but even if they choose not to go into agriculture I think it’s a great experience for them just to learn good work ethics and just to learn about sustainability and just how to take care of the land,” said Agriculture teacher Matthew Calica.

    This has been Calica’s first year making it to the FFA state convention. This event provided him the opportunity to learn and grow alongside his students as a first year agriculture teacher at MHS. “The kids were really great, but for the most part yeah, I was really impressed with how they did and I’m really proud of them and for the most part, they taught me a lot. You know, when it really comes down to it, because I was never in FFA, the students kind of had to help me with some of the rules of FFA, and yeah I’m just really happy that we had a such good results, and even for those that didn’t place, we had a couple students who didn’t place, but even then I just saw how hard they were working and I was really impressed with that,” said Calica.

    For Senior Chynna Chun and Junior Kamryn Shimizu this was not the first state convention that they’ve competed in. Chun won first place in the category prepared speaking, where students advocate for a chosen agricultural issue. “So my personal issue was very current, is was about advocacy or advocating for agriculture in Hawai’i, you know a lot of times, especially since 85 to 90% of our food in Hawaii is imported that costs about three billion dollars, you know my topic was more focused on advocating for the current agriculture issues that are hindering our success here , such as unused farmlands, food insecurity and the scarcity of young farmers, so my goal, was more about advocating and reaching out to our local state legislators, because they are in charge of making the laws here, as students here of Future Farmers of America, we are here to I guess, promote those issues,” said Chun.

   For Shimizu, this has been her second time competing in the state convention, placing second in agricultural demonstration alongside partner Kylie Hull. Agricultural demonstration require teamwork, where one student does the presenting while another student does the demonstration. “So for us, we wrote our own ag demo, so usually we use ones that were from previous years and then we could revise it, like make it in our own words, but this year I decided to write our own, so we did how to construct a tumbling compost system,” said Shimizu.

    While working on their projects, the students faced many challenges. Challenges were faced in all things from preparation or staying focused while at the event. “So it was pretty difficult, making it to the level, by writing it myself, cause usually we go off of what we already have, and we were competing against other schools, and they did really interesting things, one group did aquaponics and hydroponics, the other competing group in our chapter did seed sprouts, so and I personally didn’t think that it would go that far, because a lot of people know what composting is,” said Shimizu. Chun added, “I guess the biggest challenge would be myself, you know you’re watching other people present and you’re watching other people do their speech and their own oral defenses, and their vibe sort of challenges mine, like I have to stay relaxed, I have to stay focused for my event, I can’t let other people’s mistakes or other people’s achievements affect me, because when it comes down to it, my speech depends on how much I know”.

    With the state convention coming to an end, MHS students gained leadership roles in the FFA. Chun has been elected as the new FFA State Treasurer. Shimizu has been chosen to be the next FFA President for the MHS Chapter in the 2019-2020 school year. “So being a state officer, I think a lot of our future plans is to gain better connections with the current FFA chapters now, you know usually we only see eachother during districts or state competitions, so we’re trying to incorporate a lot of like small activities, and days where we can just get to know eachother better and just better our connections with every chapter because maybe we can support eachother in some way,” said Chun. Shimizu added, “So as I said I’m going to be the next president for the 2019 2020 school year, I really want to get our chapter more involved, with whether it is more service projects, getting out more, doing more things, getting more people encouraged to be in FFA, cause our current chapter is mostly going to be juniors, so we’re all going graduate, and I really want to make sure that the chapter stays alive, because in Hawai’i, FFA is not really that hyped up, and people don’t really care, especially in our highschool, and the chapters have been disbanding, which is, we don’t really want that for the Mililani chapter, so I want to get our group encouraged and keep going, and I just want us to all have fun and get more involved with whether it be other chapters, from Kalani or Waipahu, Castle (High School).”

    In addition to the works of Chun and Shimizu, other students from the MHS FFA chapter participated in CDEs provided at the competition. In Plant Identification, Kylie Hull and partner Aren Pai placed 1st, in Creed Recitation, Aaron Otsu placed 1st, and students Chloe Oshiro and Caralyn Yamasaki participated in Ag Demo and Corsage Making, but didn’t place.