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Atwater High School FFA students qualify for national finals for first time in school history – from the Merced Sun Star

Atwater FFA’s Julie Dailey, Katelyn Baptista, Goldi Vang, Emmanual Avila, and Hans van Warmerdam compete in the Milk Quality and Dairy Products competition during the MJC FFA Field Day competition in March.

By Doane Yawger

For the first time in school history, Atwater High School’s chapter of the National FFA Organization earned three state championships and will represent the state at the national FFA finals in October in Louisville, Ky.

Atwater’s ag mechanics, agronomy and milk quality-dairy foods teams captured first place awards. That sets in motion a drive to raise the $30,000 necessary to send the dozen students to the nation’s capital for a leadership conference and then to Louisville, where the competition may be even stiffer than it was earlier this month at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Dave Gossman, FFA adviser, said this is the first time the ag mechanics squad has captured a first place. Ag mechanics encompasses welding and metal fabrication. It involves woodworking, electrical, oxy-fuel welding and cutting skills, and tool identification.

Gossman said the Atwater High ag program has tremendous support from the community and the local agricultural industry. He said Atwater teams have traditionally done well in the past in the milk judging events and agronomy events.

“It was a tremendous day for Atwater FFA where the heart, passion, efforts and skills of our students all came together when it all mattered,” said Sam Meredith, FFA adviser and ag mechanics coach.

Gossman said this is the fourth-straight championship for the agronomy team and the third-straight for the milk quality and dairy foods team.

“What makes this special is the fact that when a team wins the championship, those students cannot compete again on the team the following years,” Gossman said. “So the accomplishments of those teams have been done with a new team of students each year.”

Agronomy students competed in the evaluation, identification and quality of various weeds, crops and seeds. Students judge various classes of hay crops and seeds and have to give four sets of oral presentations to judges, explaining why they placed a class in a certain way.

Gossman said the FFA’s goal is to win the national championship in milk and dairy products and place in the top five or 10 in the ag mechanics and agronomy competitions.

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