Oley FFA awarded The Keystone Degree

Members of the Oley Valley FFA accept awards for their 3rd place Gold Team performance in the Food Science & Technology CDE at the National FFA Convention last November from Agriculture Secretary George Greig during the 2014 PA Farm Show in Harrisburg. (l-r) Hali Hoch, Callista Miller, Nicole Lynch, Kathryn Bergeman and Greig.

Days of frigid temperatures, snow, sleet, and then topped off with periods of heavy rain did not stop Berks County FFA students from competing and enjoying the events at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

According to its website, the Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in America with 24 acres under roof and spread throughout 11 buildings including three arenas.

“It’s just such a unique environment with an indoor fair. You don’t find that anywhere else,” said Cindy Hooks, attendee, as she meandered through the various FFA exhibits.

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It was also the FFA Mid-Winter Convention at The Farm Show where a number of members were selected to receive the PA FFA Keystone Degree including five students from the Oley Valley FFA.

According to Jeremy Deysher, Oley Valley FFA Advisor, the Keystone Degree is the highest FFA Degree that a member can receive from the Pennsylvania FFA Association. It is based on academic achievement, leadership and chapter involvement, community service and completion of an SAE with a minimum of 300 hours or $1,000 earned or invested in the project. The following Oley FFA members received their degree Jan. 6, at the Farm Show during the FFA Midwinter Convention: Kenidy Kubitz, Austin Schaeffer, Shannon Yoder, Courtney Brumbach and Callista Miller.

Deysher added that on the same day, 10 FFA freshmen received a complimentary FFA Jacket valued at $55 from the PA FFA Alumni Association. These FFA members competed in a contest where they had to write an essay on what the FFA jacket means to them. The following 9th grade FFA members received a jacket:

Janelle Rohrbach, Chris Kubitz, Nate Guldin, Evan Hoch, Jenna Uhrlich, Polly Prout, Rachel Bergeman, Amanda Mazieka, Morgan Davis and Hannah Levengood.

As for competition, Abby Sterner, junior, braved the extreme weather and spent the week showing her brown Swiss cows and calves at the Farm Show. Sterner’s family has their own dairy farm.

“This is her first year in FFA. She’s a transfer student from Boyertown because Boyertown doesn’t have an ag or FFA program,” said Deysher.

Although Sterner wasn’t able to compete with FFA prior to Oley, she still competed in open divisions. According to the Farm Show’s 2014 results on its website, Sterner took three second-place in youth classes and two second-place in open as well as one third-place also in an open class.

Special mention goes to Kelly Piccioni and her class at the Career Center East. Piccioni’s students from her horticulture program developed and set up an Agriculture Education Landscape Exhibit and took Fifth Place.