Writer: Aspen Lyon
LAS CRUCES–Justus Wilson spent last summer clearing trees and brush from his father's ranch as part of an FFA environmental science and natural resources proficiency project. His goal was to improve the watershed on the ranch between Carrizozo and Corona.
Clearing trees and brush made more water available for grasses and desirable plants, Wilson said. "The rain has helped it to green up, there is a lot of new grass, and it's a happier environment for wildlife."
Wilson, a member of the Carrizozo chapter, is one of 17 students who received career-oriented proficiency awards June 8 during the state FFA convention at New Mexico State University.
Wilson plans to continue his FFA work this summer.
"Doing this project has opened new doors and opportunities," said Wilson, who has become interested in pursuing a related career. "I have had several job offers and I also learned machinery operation and repair."
Other FFA members also received proficiency awards for completing a career-related activity of their choice.
Mandy Prude of Artesia worked with KSVP radio to develop her own recording studio. She learned how to record commercials, work the switchboard and edit her own show.
Cheyenne Dixon of Des Moines pitched in at the family-owned custom meat processing plant, where she was involved in all phases of the packing business. She can identify cuts of meat, handle equipment safely and work with clients.
Jennifer Choate of Tucumcari worked for Young Insurance Agency, which specializes in insuring area farmers and ranchers. She serves customers and maintains all business account records.
Cammi Moore of Des Moines completed her proficiency in beef production. She managed cattle, sheep, horses and show animal projects on 60 acres of farmland. She also developed skills in financial planning and record keeping.
Patrick Pachta of Edgewood is getting on-the-job experience at McCall Brothers' feedlot near Moriarty, where he adds to his knowledge of animal science, equipment operation, and daily livestock care and feeding.
Samantha Romero of Moriarty earned her proficiency in raising dairy replacement heifers. She has learned about feeding and caring for animals and is currently expanding her program to include beef cattle.
Amanda Crockett of Moriarty works with miniature horses, miniature donkeys and standard horses. She spends time feeding, grooming and training each animal to get it accustomed to handling.
Kayla Dunn of Moriarty works to improve her breeding and market swine project each year. She is responsible for selecting, feeding and breeding animals.
For eight years, Victoria Parkhill of Lordsburg has been involved in equine breeding. She feeds and cares for ten broodmares. She also sells horses and is active in horse shows across the state.
Rebecca Medina of Garfield specializes in houseplant production and keeps her floriculture project in the high school greenhouse. She has learned about mixing potting soil, and pinching and shaping plants to control growth rate and appearance. She markets her crop in the local area and even has a client waiting list.
Trevor Gray of Hagerman produces high quality forage for farm and dairy use. He has learned several irrigation methods and maintains and repairs equipment.
Alisha Craine of Tucumcari is the student manager of the high school greenhouse. Her responsibilities include watering, transplanting and fertilizing.
Denton Dowell of Tucumcari owns a flock of more than 100 sheep. His skills in selecting, feeding and lambing have produced quality show animals. He also spends time helping other members with their sheep.
Kassi Shelko of Clovis specializes in grooming and showing American Pit Bull Terriers. She has attended shows across the nation, where the animals she trains are frequent winners. She also maintains the kennels.
Caleb Dodd of Melrose won an award in diversified crop production. He is involved in all aspects of farming, from planting the seed to harvesting the wheat. He understands equipment maintenance and safe operating procedures.
Chanz Robbins of Hachita owns 162 head of breeding and market goats, which he markets in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. He also owns broodmares, breeding ewes and show lambs.
For more information about FFA, contact Les Purcella at the state FFA office, (505) 646-3036, or check with the FFA chapter in your local high school.
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