Teen rancher heads to National FFA Convention for rare honor
OAK CREEK — Soroco High School is sending its first finalist ever to FFA nationals for the National FFA Proficiency Awards.
Senior Bailey Iacovetto was one of only four teens selected nationwide to compete in the “Outdoor Recreation” category in Indianapolis, Indiana, in October. There are 47 different proficiency programs in Future Farmers of America such as outdoor recreation, wildlife management or ag mechanics.
The proficiency award recognizes students who have established a new business or worked for an existing company while showing how they’ve learned and grown through the hands-on experience.
Bailey Iacovetto is a fifth-generation rancher on her family-owned Saddleback Ranch — a ranch that not only runs cattle but offers outdoor recreation. Bailey started “bread” duty during sleigh rides at age 4.
“Cowboys and cowgirls would serve meals. We would set her up behind the counter with tongs, and she would be in charge of serving the homemade bread,” said mom Cara Iacovetto.
By the time she was ready to start high school it was only natural for Bailey to choose Soroco High School even though she was in the Steamboat Springs School District. Soroco is known for its outstanding FFA program.
“My mom and dad grew up in FFA, and it’s part of the family,” Bailey said. “Going to Soroco and being a part of that program is very special.”
The program is run by teacher Jay Whaley, and each FFA student is required to do a Supervised Agricultural Experience, known as a SAE. Whaley said students can then select an official “proficiency” their sophomore year where they keep detailed records of their job or internship, then fill out a questionnaire their junior year.
“It’s pretty extensive … 17 pages,” Whaley said.
Bailey said she worked on cattle drives, horseback tours and snowmobile tours and kept financial and work records of everything she did. She’s hoping the diversity of her application and wide-ranging skills will wow the judges.
“I’ll be doing interviews in Indianapolis … one-on-one communication with judges, and they’ll ask questions about my proficiency and about things the questionnaire didn’t cover,” Bailey said.
Parents Cara and Justin Iacovetto said Bailey has been involved in almost every aspect of Saddleback Ranch from the time she could sit on a horse.
“She deals with guests so well and is so patient and kind, and a lot of our guests are blown away when they find out she is 17,” Cara said. “Even through wrangling and horseback riding — calming a child or even an adult — she has this calming presence about her and doesn’t get rattled, which is easy to do in our line of work.”
As of now, Bailey plans to attend the University of Wyoming to study agricultural education with an emphasis in ag communication.
“My ag teacher has inspired me to teach,” Bailey said.
Bailey is the Soroco FFA Chapter president and District 1 FFA president, representing Northwest Colorado. She’s also the reigning Routt County Fair Queen.
The 92nd National FFA Convention & Expo will be held Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 in Indianapolis, Indiana, with about 70,000 FFA students in attendance.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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