Minarets FFA team wins national title

In a display of judging supremacy, the Minarets High School FFA judging team recently brought home a National Championship to a school that has previously been recognized for its FFA excellence on the national stage.

On Oct. 29 and Oct. 30, four brave Mustangs put their talents to the test against 44 teams from across the country at the National FFA Livestock Evaluation Career Development Event, a competition that tests the student's ability to select and evaluate livestock. The event was held in Lousivlle, Ky.

The two day competition was part of the 87th National FFA Convention & Expo showcasing some of the futures brightest agricultural education leaders. The event is one of many educational activities at the national convention in which FFA members apply classroom knowledge to real-life situations.

Led by their coach and advisor, Krsiti Mattes, Mikaela Fringer, Bailey Samper, Jordyn Samper and Shyann Mattes took the 2,200 mile journey to Louisville to represent California, the Central Valley and, more importantly, Minarets in a competition to see who was the best livestock judging team in the country.

After two days of competition it was the Minarets Mustangs who rained supreme capturing a Gold emblem in Livestock judging. Along with being crowned National Champions in their respective division, Fringer, Samper, Shyann and Jordyn were awarded with $1,000 in cash prizes for their top finish.

As well as winning gold in the overall team competition, members also competed for individual awards with 171 other participants. Fringer, Samper and Shyann were presented with Gold emblems for their individual performances. Fringer placed second highest of all 171 participants, Jordyn ranked fourth and Mattes finished No. 10 overall.

During the competition teams were judged individually based on the event components which incorporated eight evaluation classes of beef, sheep, swine, and goats; oral placement reasons on four classes; and a written exam on livestock production. The team activity, utilized reproductive and marketing information, demonstrating the teams livestock selection ability. Individual scores were then added together to give the team its overall final score.

Although only one team brought home gold, two teams participated on behalf of the Minarets FFA chapter. Katie McDouglad, Ashlynn Lemon, Ciara Johnson, and Kyle Middleton represented Minarets in the environmental natural resource division.

In order to participate in the National competition both teams were required to finish first at the state competition held the last Saturday of May, earning the right to represent California at the national competition.

In advance of the expo both teams practiced several times a week on top of organizing travel plans to two competitions in Indiana in preparation for the national convention.

“We would practice two days a week and between March and May we had a contest every weekend,” Coach Mattes said.

Team effort brings second national title

The extremely unique accomplishment is not a first for the Minarets FFA chapter. In fact, this year’s honors mark the third year in a row the chapter has produced state champions in four divisions. Minarets won the National Parliamentary Procedure competition in 2012, and another state championship in team forestry in 2013.

Coach Mattes, who is in her 37th year of teaching, said she is extremely proud of her team as well as her assistant coaches, Laurie Fringer and Clay Samper, who dedicated their services and knowledge to prepare the students prior to the competition.

“We are a very young chapter, only being seven years old, and I have a staff here that is one of the best in the state,” Mattes said. “They were an integral part of this team and we could not have done it without them. As you can see they will do whatever it takes to makes kids successful. I am very proud of my students and everyone who made all this possible.”

Mattes went on to say that a national title is always something memorable but the fact that the team was able to capture gold in one of the oldest and most prestigious competitions in FFA history was simply icing on the cake.

“FFA started because of a livestock judging contest so this is the oldest and most prestigious contest in FFA career development,” Mattes said.

Minarets Principal Daniel Ching acknowledged the chapters hard work as a direct reflection of the school‘s agenda to reach above and beyond academic excellence since being established in 2008.

“We are so incredible proud of our girls for winning the National Championship in Livestock Judging. This is our school's second National championship and it represents the dedication, commitment, and talent that exists in our FFA program and our school. They have put hours of time in preparation under teacher Mrs. Mattes, and coaches Fringer and Samper. They represented our school, our county, and our State on the highest of levels,” Ching said.

To cover the steep costs of such a substantial trip, including air fare, hotels, car rentals, gas and food, the community came together to donate more than $20,000 for expenditures.

Future Farmers of America (FFA) is a nationally recognized youth organization founded in 1928 with the idea of educating high school students in the area of agriculture career and technical education. The organization has recently moved in to middle schools and has even seen membership chapters grow on the collegiate level. With more than 600,000 members between the ages of 12-21 and more than 7,000 chapters in 50 states including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, FFA is one of the largest, and most recognized agricultural clubs in the country.

The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.