During the opening session of the 88th California FFA State Convention in Fresno last Saturday night, four California FFA members were honored with the top Star Awards during an onstage ceremony. As reported by the California FFA Association in a press release, each of them excelled in one of four areas:
Andrea Thomas from the Colusa FFA chapter was named the California Star Farmer state winner in recognition of proven leadership skills for an aspiring young farmer. Thomas raises and maintains hogs, cattle and hay.
Nitin Gupta from the Tulare FFA chapter was named the California Star in Agribusiness state winner, the highest achievement for a person pursuing a career in agribusiness. Gupta started the business Simple Sand three years ago in which he collects, markets and distributes sand from his family’s ranch to local businesses.
Paul Barcellos, also from the Tulare FFA chapter, was named the California Star in Agricultural Placement state winner, the highest recognition in the state for a young person excelling in job placement in the agricultural industry. Barcellos works alongside his dad at Cain Trucking as a Foreman in the Composting and Air Pollution Control Operations in recycling agriculture products and preventing air pollution.
Halley Lauchland, a high school junior from the Lodi FFA chapter received the 2016 FFA Star State Degree in Agriscience Award, the highest achievement for a person pursuing a career in agriscience.
“My project was cane pruning for the control of Eutypa Dieback in winegrapes,” A fifth-generation winegrape grower, Lauchland told CalAgToday, “The disease is commonly found in cabernet franc finds.”
Lauchland conducted her research in part to help her family’s 18-year-old vines with the Eutypa Dieback disease, which she defined as “a fungal spore that enters the vine through pruning wounds. This will eventually kill the vine, causing the farmer to have to replant, which costs a lot of money and isn’t efficient.”
Lauchland tested cane pruning versus the commonly-used method of spur pruning to keep the disease at bay. “We tested two rows and found [cane pruning] was a more efficient way to do it, and it was going to save us more money in the long-run.” Spotting her research catching on in local vineyards, Lauchland said “It seems people are going to the cane prune.”
Lauchland’s research was published in the Lodi District Grape Growers Association Update last year as, “Lodi High School Student to Compete in State FFA Agriscience Fair with Eutypa Dieback Research Project.” Lauchland stated, “That helped put out the word, what this [method] does and how it helps farmers.”
Overjoyed to have been selected to win the Star in Agriscience award, Lauchland said, “Words can’t really describe how I feel right now.”
The California Future Farmers of America (FFA) State Convention was sponsored by PG&E and the J.G. Boswell Foundation, as a special project of the California FFA Foundation.