Editor’s note:  Kirsten Areias recently received the Merced Chapter California Women for Ag Bell Ringer award for promoting agriculture. She has agreed to write a regular agriculture column for The Westside Express.

I live, love and promote agriculture.  Through a regular series of articles that I will write for the Westside Express, I hope to share some of the agricultural happenings in our area.

At times I will tie local ag to the past of Los Banos, which was a thriving agricultural area dotted with many little family farms in the days when my grandparents and parents lived and loved agriculture too.

Let me start by talking about leadership.  There are many organizations that offer leadership both for our youth and adults in our community.  FFA is one that has been in my family for 5 generations!  

As the website FFA.org states, “FFA is a dynamic youth organization that changes lives and prepares members for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.  FFA develops members’ potential and helps them discover their talent through hands-on experiences, which give members the tools to achieve real-world success.”

Los Banos has an FFA chapter at both Pacheco and Los Banos High Schools and an FFA chapter at Los Banos Junior High.  I consider FFA a premier leadership organization and value what it has to offer all students who take an agricultural class in school.

In this era of “hands on,” meaning primarily hands on a cell phone for countless hours, I applaud true “hands on” experiences in leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education!

Los Banos FFA members at opening and closing ceremony competition: Back row, from left: Karley Rocha, Leah Rogers, Chase Fifield, Bradley English, Zoey Wooten, Jaci Bretz, Brokton Borelli, Samantha Carter, Anthony Orozco, Nathan Campiotti and Katelyn Ramirez. Front row (from left) Brian Tovar, Nylah Salazar, Samantha Pantojia, Kambria Moore, Grace Soares, Udaijot Gakall and Angel Levya.