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Featured Chapter: Upper Lake FFA    
Posted: 1/25/2019 2:46 PM | Author: California FFA

Upper Lake FFA is part of the Upper Lake Unified School District and serves students from the communities of Spring Valley, Clearlake Oaks, Glen Haven, Lucerne, Nice, Upper Lake, Witter Springs and Blue Lakes. Some students travel over 45 minutes to get to school every day. The high school is located along the north shore of Clear Lake in the North Coast FFA Region. Clear Lake is the largest freshwater lake in California and it is considered to be the oldest lake in North America, dating back 480,000 years! The ecology of the lake and the surrounding county is also unique. Known as the “Bass Capital of the West,” Clear Lake entices fisherman and wildlife enthusiasts from all over the nation. The surrounding mountains and rolling hills are great for timber and cattle production and the volcanic soils are ideal for wine grape production. The fertile valleys are excellent for pear and walnut orchards, as well as nursery products. This is where our FFA Advisor, Erica Boomer, grew up and went to high school. She was never in FFA (but was a member of 4-H for over 12 years) so it was her goal to become an Ag Teacher and bring FFA back to Upper Lake High School; and that’s what she did! After losing their FFA Charter in the 1956-57 school year, Upper Lake FFA was reinstated in 2005-06 and has been growing strong ever since! Our other FFA Advisor, Chris Decker, joined our program in 2015 after earning his Career Technical Education Credential, based on his construction and welding experience. He has done a great job revitalizing the Ag Mechanics pathway and has brought in Ag Metals and Ag Construction courses. We also have a wood shop and a 1.5 acre school farm with a hog barn, goat and sheep pens, a steer barn, and a garden area. Students utilize these facilities for SAE projects and lab activities. Every part of the school farm was built by our members. Our school has close to 300 students total and half of them are enrolled in Ag Education courses. Upper Lake FFA strives to fulfill the service component of the FFA organization, essentially “living to serve.” Being a small community means that we experience everything together, the beautiful and the devastating. Recently our community, and surrounding communities, have been immensely affected by raging wildfires that have destroyed homes and agricultural commodities, and disrupted the daily lives of many citizens. The entire north shore of Clear Lake was evacuated for over 10 days prior to the start of school this year due to the Ranch and River Fires (known as the Mendocino Complex). The Ranch Fire grew to be the largest wildfire in California’s history! During this time, our FFA members rallied together to evacuate animals, gather donations of food and clothing as well as livestock feed and hay for those affected. Organizations like LEAP (Lake Evacuation Animal Protection)/Animal Control and Calfire were crucial in saving livestock and property, but so were our FFA Advisors and our Chapter President, Rebecca Harper, and her family. They were able to gain authority clearance into evacuated areas to make multiple trips with their livestock trailers to retrieve SAE project animals for many of our members. Thankfully, we were able to shelter them at surrounding facilities, including the Middletown FFA School Farm and with Kelseyville FFA families. Our members also worked with fire victims in order to get them the animal feeds that they needed and made daily checks on animals still left in evacuated areas. Not only were Rebecca and her family instrumental during the Ranch Fire, but they were also victims of the Pawnee Fire that occurred in June of 2018 and her family lost their home! They were evacuated 3 times this summer during all of the various fires. Rebecca is an outstanding member and also serves as our Mendo-Lake Section FFA Secretary and was a state quarterfinalist for Extemporaneous Public Speaking this year! Way to go Rebecca! With these events fresh in our minds, our FFA Chapter Officers chose “Make It Happen, Make It Matter!” as our theme this year. We are a Chapter that emphasizes community service and it’s times like these when we can really make a positive change, make things HAPPEN, and encourage our members to do things that really MATTER. We also participate in the annual Wreaths Across America campaign, where we get sponsorship for wreaths to be placed on Veterans’ headstones at our local cemetery; we do an annual food drive and volunteer at every community event possible. In addition to serving our community, our members enjoy showing livestock at the county fair and exhibition shows, competing in speaking contests, and competing in welding CDE competitions.

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