On Nov. 29, the Firebaugh FFA hosted the annual fall awards banquet. The dinner and ceremony took place in the Firebaugh High School cafeteria, where doors opened at 6 p.m., and the gavel dropped at 6:30 p.m.

Many FFA members attended the event, alongside some parents who went in support of their children receiving awards. All of the FHS agriculture teachers were present, including Michael Ortiz, Erica Correia, Stephanie Goeb, Gene Lieb, and FFA Advisor Katelyn Smith. Assistant Superintendent Sarah Marshall and school board member Abel Serrano were also in attendance.

Blue Flame Diner provided dinner for the evening, which consisted of chicken pasta, salad and bread rolls. All guests were able to eat after the opening ceremony took place, where the FFA Officers welcomed everyone and spoke through their usual announcements.

Once everyone was seated at the tables with their meals, the FFA officers began the awards.

The officers presented five Firebaugh Middle School students with certificates for earning their Discovery Degree, which is earned when a student is enrolled in an agriculture class for a portion of their eighth-grade year. A total of 34 middle school students were granted this degree, although not everyone was present at the ceremony that night.

While the students were still on stage, Smith shared a few pieces of advice with the middle school students she taught.

Following this certificate was the awarding of the Greenhand Degree, earned when a student is in an agriculture class during their freshman year of high school and fulfills other duties, like learning the FFA Creed. A total of 27 students were presented this degree onstage, and a total of roughly 160, including the 27, were granted this award.

Correia, who taught many of the freshmen for their science requirement, spoke to her students and explained the significance of the bronze pin they each were given.

Finally, the Chapter Degree was presented to high school students who had been enrolled in an agriculture class for two years. At the ceremony, about 30 students received their certificates and pins, with many students being sophomores. A total of about 180 FFA members were listed as degree recipients this evening. Goeb shared a message with this group, discussing the silver pin they were given, as well as advice, stating, “Wisdom leads to industry, productivity, and happiness.”

Ashley Serna, the Firebaugh FFA Secretary for the 2023-24 school year, and Secretary for the West Fresno-Madera Section, explains, “I think the fall banquet was a huge success. It was nice to see so many members receiving their degrees that they worked diligently for. Seeing our students on stage was amazing, especially the middle school students who earned their Discovery Degree. Overall, there was a great turnout. I am excited for the spring awards banquet.”

Samantha Rangel