Community Agriculture Alliance: Now is a great time to connect with the valley’s FFA members

Eric Wellman
Community Agriculture Alliance
Claire Corriveau shows her lamb at the Routt County Fair's Junior Livestock Sale on Aug. 19, 2023.
Eli Pace/Steamboat Pilot & Today

As the school year starts, many students throughout Routt County conclude their summer competing at the Routt County Fair and then starting back to the school year.

High school students in Hayden and Soroco have started their school year celebrating the success of the last year and preparing to forge on to an even more exciting 2023-24 school year. FFA chapters in both schools are excited to be recognized at the 96th National FFA Convention in November.

Soroco FFA members Oliva Rossi — who won the state Prepared Public Speaking event — and Emily Rossi — who won the state FFA Creed Speaking contest — earned them the privilege to represent Colorado at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. Kayla Rossi, a Soroco FFA member, is not only receiving her American FFA degree, but is also one of the 35 FFA members that will go through a week of rigorous interviews for the opportunity to continue to serve 945,988 FFA members as one of the six 2023-24 national FFA officers.

Hayden FFA, in only its second year of having a chartered FFA chapter, has earned the honor of being a Two-Star Chapter in the National Chapter Program. In the 2022-23 school year, the chapter submitted its application that highlighted three events that grow leaders, three events that build community and three events that strengthen agriculture. It was selected among the top 10 in Colorado and then was scored among the other top 10% of chapters across the nation.

Including the success that each program is experiencing within the blue corduroy, Hayden and Soroco continue to showcase the essence of Career and Technical Education by not only creating leaders, but by providing career training to students through their programs. Both schools offer programming in the areas of food products, natural resources, plant science, animal science, welding, carpentry and compact equipment.

As we look forward to the new year, both programs have exciting opportunities to interact with the communities throughout the Yampa Valley, empower students’ connection to leadership and career development and serve as advocates for agriculture. Events planned for both school districts include a Western Slope Range Contest in Hamilton, District Leadership Conference in Meeker, and Career Development Events in Hayden and Craig later this spring.

A new event that both programs hope to grow to an annual tradition is Tailgating for Routt County AG. On Oct. 27 at the Hayden vs. Soroco volleyball and football games, the two FFA programs will plan a tailgating event where the two communities can come together to celebrate the long rivalry between schools, and highlight different agricultural commodities that our students produce as part of their supervised agricultural experiences.

Agricultural education strives to grow individuals, create agricultural advocates and foster community leaders. As you see the blue corduroy jackets throughout the Yampa Valley, be sure to connect with them.

Eric Wellman is an agriculture science/FFA teacher at Hayden High School.

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