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New state officers bring humor, passion to California FFA    
Posted: 4/26/2016 4:41 PM | Author: Tim Hearden, Capital Press


FRESNO, Calif. — California FFA’s newly elected state officer team promised the more than 5,000 students attending the organization’s state convention that they’ll put plenty of passion and energy into the coming year.

The slate of new officers announced April 26 includes the first-ever twins to serve together at the state level — President Andrew Skidmore and Secretary Amanda Skidmore, both from the small San Joaquin Valley town of Atwater.

During his election pitch to delegates, Andrew generated laughs — and a few gasps — by comparing his candidacy to the TV show, “The Bachelor.” He told the gathering that “just like those roses,” he may sometimes have a thorny side “but I’m beautiful.”

Amanda showed some humor, too, telling fellow members that doctors had said she would be a boy and her stubborn parents dubbed her “a man, duh.”

“I’ve been called a tomboy and a lady,” Amanda told more than 5,000 students in Fresno’s Selland Arena, adding that she would bring the best of both perspectives into her leadership role. “I will serve this organization with motivation, passion and determination.”

The Skidmore siblings are joined on the 2016-17 officers’ team by Vice President Lauren Millang of Woodland, Treasurer Sam Looper of Apple Valley, Reporter Conner Vernon of Nipomo and Sentinel Jace Neugebauer of McArthur. The students were among 81 applicants for state office, 37 of whom were given interviews and 12 chosen as finalists.

Looper also took a humorous approach to his April 25 election pitch, making light of what he called his “plus-size” jacket. He said his friends call him “Corn Fed” and that he’s “full of GMOs.”

“In the last four years, I’ve not only grown out of eight FFA jackets but I’ve grown as a leader,” Looper said to laughter and loud cheers.

The new officers were announced after each of the outgoing state officers had taken turns over the course of the April 21-26 conference in giving heartfelt speeches about their time in office. Each also had their parents and advisers on stage to thank them in moving tributes.

Outgoing President Joelle Lewis of San Luis Obispo themed her address “environmental change,” noting that students’ “roots” help form their interests and beliefs but they’re capable of improving their own outlook.

“We may be products of our environment, but we have a responsibility … to choose who we are,” Lewis said. She added that supporters and detractors “don’t decide who you are — you do.”

Sydnie Sousa of Tulare, the outgoing vice president, urged fellow members to practice selflessness, noting that the virtue will help them in a sometimes thankless career of farming. She told of putting together boxes of clothes and other items for the FFA chapter in El Reno, Okla., which was devastated by a 2013 tornado, and later being approached and thanked at the national FFA convention in Louisville, Ky.

“Know the power of doing something for someone and expecting nothing in return,” Sousa said.

Lewis and Sousa were joined by their fellow 2015-2016 officers — Secretary Breanna Holbert of Lodi, Treasurer Trevor Autry of Nipomo, Reporter Danielle Diele of Merced and Sentinel Tim Truax of Turlock — in ceremonially retiring their trusty blue-and-gold jackets amid wild cheers and tearful embraces.

The conference also featured 2015-16 National FFA President Taylor McNeel of Vilonia, Ark., and 2015-16 national Secretary Nick Baker, now an agricultural communications major at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

In all, California has more than 76,000 FFA members in 315 chapters — a significant portion of the organization’s 610,240 members in 7,665 chapters nationwide, according to conference organizers.


 
   
 
 
 
     
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