FFA auction raises $33,000

editor@sierrastar.comMay 13, 2014 

Nearly 300 Mountain Area and Valley residents attended the Yosemite High Future Farmers of America Boosters Tri-Tip Dinner & Auction May 10, to help raise a record breaking $33,000 for the FFA program.

Held at the Evergreen Conference Center, the ninth annual dinner featured a 33-item live auction, a 70-item silent auction, and 50-50 drawing.

Allie Stearns, Yosemite FFA Club reporter, opened the evening by welcoming everyone to the event and thanking the audience for supporting FFA and helping fund community awards, educational trips, and a variety of FFA projects.

Prior to dinner, a blessing was provided by FFA club member Taylor Wade.

Of the 33 live auction items, 17 showcased the beautiful custom work of Jeff Kirby's ROP welding class at YHS. The wrought iron and wood pieces included a picnic table (Dallas Gray), two sets of two patio chairs with end table (Isaha Forney and Dylan McCully), fire wood rack (Zac Upshaw), two swings (Anthony Shimmer and RJ Vlach), wagon wheel planter (Blake Riggs), large wind chime (Cole Baldwin), two fire pits (Brent Ezell and Bailey Petrushkin), bar table with stools (Sam Moberly), a entry gate (Michale VanZant), barbecue (Charles Kelly), shooting target (Patric Diaz), garden arbor (Cody Gauthier), rustic bench (Alex Mears), and a smoker (Tanner Russell).

The 17 pieces brought in more than $9,000 — more than the entire live auction normally does.

"Every year I step back after the auction and look what these students have done, and each year I am impressed," Kirby said. "When given the means and the opportunity, our students can produce professional, quality merchandise with the skills they have acquired at Yosemite High."

Although Tracey and Hadley Hopkins of Coarsegold have been supporters of 4-H and FFA for years, this year was the first time they attended the event.

The couple, who's daughter Sally Jo Papagni (2006 YHS graduate), participated in 4-H and FFA, did their share for the cause during the auction, purchasing four items including a two-day exotic hunting trip (Bitterwater Outfitters - Paso Robles), and a package that included a ride on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad and a night's stay at Tenaya Lodge

"We came to support Jeff Kirby, the FFA program, and to give back to the community," Hadley said.

Tracey said they enjoyed the opportunity to talk to the students about what they built.

"They were amazing," Tracey said. "Each one of them knew exactly how many hours they put into their project. This was a great event and we'll be back next year."

Other live auction items included a one-week stay in a luxurious villa in Costa Rico (Dale family - Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls), horseback fishing trip (Virginia Lakes Pack Station), and a one year membership to Sun Mountain Gun Club.

Silent auction items included a Sierra Ambulance family membership, gift baskets, camping equipment, swim lessons, spa services, power tools, barbecue accessories, garden decorations, and restaurant gift certificates.

Bridgette Russell of Coarsegold, vice president of the YHS FFA Boosters, served as the event chairperson for the third year.

"This event was a huge success due to the amazing support of this community," Russell said. "I want to thank the entire event committee, with special thanks our auctioneer Tim Sisil who's professional efforts make the live auction fun, exhilarating for everyone and extremely profitable."

Volunteers manning the barbecue for the dinner included Brook and Gavin Allen, Will Muller, and Robert Valadon.

"FFA is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education," Russell said.

After the hours and hours of work on the event, Russell said she is looking forward to a family camping trip.

"But when I get back, I'll start working on next year's dinner so it will be bigger and better.

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