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Santa Maria High School FFA Members Receive Awards at Regional Degree Ceremony

Jose Rios, Julio Hurtado-Juarez, Nicole Yerena, Jennifer Rodriguez, Paola Lomeli and Kevin Carbajal of Santa Maria High School were all honored with prestigious awards at the State FFA South Coast Regional Degree Ceremony at the beginning of April 2016. Click to view larger
Jose Rios, Julio Hurtado-Juarez, Nicole Yerena, Jennifer Rodriguez, Paola Lomeli and Kevin Carbajal of Santa Maria High School were all honored with prestigious awards at the State FFA South Coast Regional Degree Ceremony at the beginning of April 2016. (Santa Maria Joint Union High School District photo)

Fifty-three Santa Maria High School FFA students earned Proficiency and State Degree awards and were honored during the State FFA South Coast Regional Degree Ceremony at the Clark Center in Arroyo Grande Sunday, April 3, 2016.

More than 800 teachers, students and parents attended the event from schools throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.

“What a great evening for Santa Maria FFA students, parents and advisors,” said Department Chair Marc DeBernardi. “These outstanding students have worked hard outside the classroom to accomplish this high level of achievement. We are all very proud of them. It’s a great groups of students.”

A record 45 students earned their State FFA Degree. The State FFA Degree is the highest degree a member can receive by the State FFA Association.

In order to qualify, members must have earned and productively invested at least $1,000 and worked 500 hours in excess of scheduled class time on an agriculture-related project and have a record of outstanding leadership abilities and 25-hours of community involvement, according to Shannon Powell of the schools’s agriculture department.  

Proficiency Awards were presented to eight students with excellent work experience or ownership projects based on an application and their student record books.

The awards honor students who have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers, Powell added. 

Four students — seniors Jose Rios, Nicole Yerena and Julio Hurtado-Juarez and junior Alex Sandoval — qualified as state finalists in their respective proficiency area. 

Rios qualified in the area of agriculture mechanics repair and maintenance placement, Yerena qualified in the area of agriscience research animal systems, and Hurtado-Juarez who qualified in the area of equine science entrepreneurship. Sandoval qualified in the area of turf grass management.

All four students will compete at the state competition at California State University, Fresno in late April.  

“This past weekend I received my State FFA Degree and Proficiency Award in the area of agriscience research integrated systems,’’ said Paola Lomeli, a junior. “I am truly proud of my accomplishments in the FFA. It was not easy to earn these awards as it took many hours of hard work.’’

In addition, SMHS special education teacher Kristie Whitefiled-Van Horn was honored as the South Coast Regional Star Regional Faculty/Staff Member for her many hours of dedication and support of the FFA program.

Assistant Principal Paul Robinson was also recognized as the Santa Barbara Sectional FFA Star Administrator for his continual support of the FFA Program.

​— Kenny Klein is the public information officer for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.

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