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Oregon FFA convention offers students a view to the future

Oregon's annual state FFA convention results in new officers, polished public speaking abilities and new prospects to consider.

By Eric Mortenson

EO Media Group

Published on March 24, 2016 2:07PM

Last changed on March 24, 2016 2:38PM

Alex Murphy, who teaches in Blue Mountain Community College’s new precision irrigated agriculture program, told FFA students that employers are eager to hire people trained in the new technology.

Eric Mortenson/Capital Press

Alex Murphy, who teaches in Blue Mountain Community College’s new precision irrigated agriculture program, told FFA students that employers are eager to hire people trained in the new technology.

2016-17 President Shea Booster, Bend, Ore.

Courtesy of Oregon FFA

2016-17 President Shea Booster, Bend, Ore.

2016-17 Vice President Hailee Patterson, Imbler, Ore.

Courtesy of Oregon FFA

2016-17 Vice President Hailee Patterson, Imbler, Ore.

2016-17 Secretary Liberty Greenlund, Yamhill-Carlton, Ore.

Courtesy of Oregon FFA

2016-17 Secretary Liberty Greenlund, Yamhill-Carlton, Ore.

2016-17 Sentinel Bryson Price, Sutherlin, Ore.

Courtesy of Oregon FFA

2016-17 Sentinel Bryson Price, Sutherlin, Ore.

2016-17 Treasurer Raymond Seal, Joseph, Ore.

Courtesy of Oregon FFA

2016-17 Treasurer Raymond Seal, Joseph, Ore.

2016-17 Reporter Zanden Unger, Dallas, Ore.

Courtesy of Oregon FFA

2016-17 Reporter Zanden Unger, Dallas, Ore.

Motivational speaker Kelly Barnes, who spoke at the Oregon FFA State Convention, urged students to seek out positive friends, organizations and entertainment media.

Eric Mortenson/Capital Press

Motivational speaker Kelly Barnes, who spoke at the Oregon FFA State Convention, urged students to seek out positive friends, organizations and entertainment media.


CORVALLIS — If the 1,400 students attending the Oregon FFA state convention had some questions about career prospects, Alexzandra “Alex” Murphy was offering some answers.

Murphy teaches a new precision irrigated agriculture program at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, and she said ag employers are clamoring to hire people trained in new technology.

“People have been asking me for students,” she said while stationed at a college information booth. “There is a huge demand for workers. Everywhere I go, they say, ‘We want more good workers.’”

Students with FFA experience are particularly attractive to employers, she said, because they’re already tuned into multiple facets of agriculture. And it hasn’t been difficult recruiting students to study precision ag applications, Murphy added.

“I don’t know too many kids who don’t get excited about technology,” she said with a laugh. “Turning off your (irrigation) pivot with a cell phone is awesome.”

Blue Mountain Community College was among the career vendors participating in the convention, held March 18-21 at Oregon State University. Students from Future Farmers of America chapters across the state attended. Among many activities, they took part in public speaking and parliamentary procedure competitions, heard from guest speakers and had a little fun on the side, such as a session on western dancing.

State officers for 2016-17 were selected as well. They are: President Shea Booster, of Bend; Vice President Hailee Patterson, of Imbler; Secretary Liberty Greenlund, of Yamhill-Carlton; Treasurer Raymond Seal, of Joseph; Reporter Zanden Unger, of Dallas; and Sentinel Bryson Price, of Sutherlin.

While advisers such as Murphy of BMCC were available to offer career advice, other convention speakers had something to say about life in general.

Kelly Barnes, a motivational speaker from Oklahoma, used a fast-paced presentation to suggest students should examine their lives and make changes.

Barnes, who grew up on family dairy and beef operations, said he found his calling during an FFA leadership conference and now spends his time talking to corporate and educational groups.

To the Oregon FFA students, Barnes listed three areas for consideration.

He asked them to realize they have ingrained habits or daily routines, things they do without thinking that may be wasting time or even holding them back.

“When we do things a certain way, what happens when someone asks you to change?” he asked. “The answer is no.”

Barnes said students should review what he called their “inputs,” the music, movies, books or organizations such as FFA that influence their lives. While many students will say they don’t act badly because of coarse entertainment, for example, they will acknowledge that other inputs make them feel sad, happy, excited or inspired.

“You put good things in, good things come out,” Barnes said.

Last, Barnes talked about the “rule of five.” He asked students to think of their interactions with five friends. Of that group, he said, who is the smartest, has the most goals, makes the best decisions and is looked at as a leader.

“The rule of five says you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” he said. “If you’re the smartest, who’s pushing you to be smarter?

“Find people who are going to push you,” Barnes concluded. “Surround yourself with people who are better than you.”















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