FFA faces disappointment and distinction at State Convention

The Parli Pro Novice Team demonstrated their Rituals proceedings at the Tonasket School Board meeting Monday, May 11, before going on to compete at State. Pictured, clockwise, are Samantha Whitney, Katie Henneman, Madyson Clark, Nichole Juarez, Camille Wilson and Morgyne Hjaltason. The team finished second in State. Submitted photo
The Parli Pro Novice Team demonstrated their Rituals proceedings at the Tonasket School Board meeting Monday, May 11, before going on to compete at State. Pictured, clockwise, are Samantha Whitney, Katie Henneman, Madyson Clark, Nichole Juarez, Camille Wilson and Morgyne Hjaltason. The team finished second in State. Submitted photo

PULLMAN – Several Tonasket FFA teams competed at State Convention May 14-16, with both individuals and teams rising to the top in multiple divisions. This was the 85th Washington FFA Convention, held at the WSU campus.

Charlie Sanchez took first place in Fruit Production in Proficiency Awards, and was the sole State Proficiency Award winner to be forwarded to Nationals. Proficiency Awards are given in three categories, with Sanchez competing in Placement, or work experience. Sanchez said he put all his work experience over the last four years into a portfolio, including photos of him working.

Additional Proficiency Award Winners were John Symonds, who took first place in Equine Science Entrepreneurship; Brock Henneman, second in Beef Production Placement; Colt Hatch, third in Agricultural Services; and Darbee Sapp, third in Agricultural Sales Placement. They received cash awards from nationwide sponsors ranging from $50 to $250.

Hatch was the chosen Delegate to the convention.

Other Proficiency Award Recipients this year are Jesse Manring, Fruit Production; Manny Puente, Fruit Production; and Brooke Nelson, Swine Production Entrepreneurship. Proficiency Award Recipients are students recognized for devoting additional time and energy to becoming experts in their chosen fields.

Nine students received State Degrees, with Sanchez receiving the Star Award and taking second place in District 7 Star Agricultural Placement Program. This recognition involves all State Degree Recipients being narrowed down to the top nine, and from there the top four are chosen to present a slideshow in front of the 3,000 FFA kids present at State Convention.

Other State Degree Recipients this year are Henneman, Nelson, Hatch, Sapp, Manring, Puente, David Curtis and Morgan Obrien.

Rade Pilkinton competed in Extemporaneus Speaking.


Senior Dallas Tyus was voted in as the FFA Washington State Treasurer.

With 8,006 FFA members in 150 chapters, Tyus said this is the first year the FFA broke 8,000 members in quite awhile. He said his team includes President Julia Spangler of Wenatchee, Vice President Monica Haugen of Pullman, Secretary Mitch Jamison of Garfield-Palouse, Reporter Jason Wigen of LaCrosse and Sentinel Dan Lyng of Meridian.

“I’m really excited to spend the next year with these people,” said Tyus. “We seem like we will mix really well.” Tyus said the team will be doing a lot of traveling, starting right after graduation, and be on the road throughout most of June. In the summer and early fall, the team will do Fair Visits. They’ll travel in pairs when the whole team can’t make it to an event.

Tyus will attend a meeting in June with FFA Executive Director Abbie DeMeerleer “to learn more about responsibilities and expectations, and to get an idea of what the year will look like.”

“It still hasn’t sunk in yet,” Tyus said Monday, May 18. “I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.”

Tyus said everyone on the team will graduate from high school this spring, except Spangler, who graduated last year.

“The FFA won’t let you serve as a State Officer when you’re still in high school because of all the time demands,” said Tyus.

Delegate Hatch said he introduced people to Tyus at the convention, acting “kind of like an extension; an extra arm.”


The Parliamentary Procedures (Parli Pro) Novice Team of Nichole Juarez, President; Morgyne Hjaltason, Vice President; Katie Henneman, Treasurer; Madyson Clark, Reporter; Camille Wilson, Secretary; and Samantha Whitney, Sentinel took second place in the State Finals out of 24 schools.

A second Novice Team of Morgan Tyus, President; Taylon Pilkinton, Vice President; Mikah Haney, Treasurer; Rycki Cruz, Secretary; Hayley Larson, Sentinel; and Alicia Tibbs, Reporter took fifth place.

The top eight teams move on to finals.

“The number one team goes to Nationals, and both our teams were pretty close to being able to go. Just a few points separated us,” said Henneman. “This is the first year for Tonasket to have two Novice teams qualify for finals.”

The Parli Pro team of President Jordon Hughes, Secretary Rachel Silverthorn, Janelle Catone, Jenna Valentine, Dallas Tyus and Rade Pilkinton took third in finals out of 31 teams.

Placing fifth was Parli Pro team President Deisy Alcauter, Secretary Seth Smith, LeighAnne Barnes, Hunter Swanson, Serenity Poletti, and Bonnie Siegfried.

“All the Tonasket parliamentary teams went to State Finals this year, which is an accomplishment in itself,” said Henneman.

The Meats Evaluation Team placed eighth out of 24 schools. The team, made up of Peterson, Puente, Karrer, Brendon Asmussen, Wyatt Pershing and Shelby Emery, competed in several events, including batch formulation, retail cut ID, and carcass judging.

Valentine, Alcauter and Corinna Karrer competed in Prepared Speaking; and Hatch, Curtis, Swanson and Nichole Fletcher competed in Agricultural Issues.

“We should’ve made finals but got beat out by a couple points by a team (Elma) that took seventh,” said Hatch.

Sanchez, Henneman, Hatch, Curtis and Trevor Peterson competed in Farm Business Management.

“We felt like we did good, but we didn’t make finals,” Hatch said. “But we think we weren’t far from it.”

Candidates from Tonasket whose names were forwarded out of State for the American Degree, a National recognition, are Brisa Leep, Cassie Spear, John Symonds, Kathryn Cleman, Pete Valentine, Timothy Jackson and Elizabeth Jackson. The decision will be made in October, 2015.


Keynote speaker Barrett Keene, PH.D. had his speech all prepared when he saw something noteworthy enough to include last-minute. Keene looked over to see Tonasket’s Parli Pro Novice team huddled together, both congratulating and consoling one another over their second-place finish.

“They were congratulating each other, and yet in tears,” noticed Keene.

Tonasket’s Novice Parli Pro took State Champion the previous two years, and the Parli Pro team went on to Nationals for the third time in four years last year. So a second-place finish at State was a bit of a disappointment.

“They’ve raised their standards over the past few years to be pretty high now,” said FFA advisor Matt Deebach.

Deebach said he was taken by surprise when Keene, who didn’t mention any other schools in his speech, talked of how selfless the team members were; not casting blame but being humble among one another.

“I just witnessed this example of selfless leadership,” Deebach quoted Keene saying as he held Tonasket up as a prime example of teamwork and leadership. “It’s unbelievable to see how much the kids had sacrificed for each other.” Keene called it one of the best examples of leadership and teamwork he had ever seen.

“That’s what is expected of these kids, to be selfless as a team,” said Deebach. “For the last 15 to 18 years, our whole chapter has acted that way. It’s a big positive for our school, as well as the community.”

Deebach, who has been the Tonasket FFA advisor the past 19 years, said he really appreciated all the chaperones and support among the community members throughout the year “to make this end product happen.”

School Board Member Lloyd Caton, who has chaperoned the FFA for several years, encouraged others to volunteer.

“Your buttons are going to pop on your shirt because you are so proud of these kids,” said Caton. “Matt really runs a tight ship. To go down there and see what kinds of kids this district is producing is fantastic. If you ever get the chance to, go.”