Petaluma FFA teams shine in state competition

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The Petaluma High School FFA’s Career Development Event season came to an exciting end at the State FFA Finals Field Day at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Petaluma fielded five teams, including Agriculture Welding, Agriculture Mechanics, Dairy Cattle Evaluation, Farm Business Management and Light Horse Judging. These teams represented 19 students ranging from freshmen to seniors, all of whom have put in countless hours preparing over the past few months and in some cases years. Each team conducted practices outside of the school day, and have competed across the state this year at field days at various colleges and host sites including UC Davis, Modesto Junior College and Fresno State University.

The Agricultural Welding team, consisting of sophomores Casen Straub, Joe Yerion, Luke Stafford and Andy Ghirardelli, placed 16th overall in a contest that tested their welding skills in shielded metal arc, gas tungsten arc, oxy fuel and fluxcored arc welding techniques. They also had to create a skills portfolio and complete a written test on welding theory and metallurgy.

The Agriculture Mechanics team, consisting of junior Derrick Pomi, seniors True Overton and Max Poncia and sophomore Dario Shoemaker, finished the year as the eighth best team with Overton placing seventh in the state. The vigorous contest included the completion of a theory test, tool identification, practical problem solving exam, arc welding, oxy fuel welding and cutting, cold metal skills and electrical wiring. The team worked hard all year and placed in the Top 10 in seven statewide contests.

The Dairy Cattle Evaluation team, consisting of sophomores Audrey Arntz and Olivia Poncia and freshmen Logan Pomi and Samantha Gambonini, finished with a fourth place with Arntz placing third overall and Gambonini placing fourth overall. The contest involves the evaluation of dairy cattle in various ages and development as well as via pedigree data. Students must then also present oral reasons to an official justifying their placing of the cattle.

The Farm Business Management team, anchored by senior Kelsey Martin, took the state championship with Martin placing as the high individual for an unprecedented third year in a row. Her supporting cast consisted of sophomore brothers Matthew and Ben Forney who placed third and fourth and Amanda King who was 13th overall. The contest encompasses not only the technical skills of farm accounting and record keeping, but also the knowledge to make successful management decisions based on theoretical situations across all sectors of production agriculture. The team is coached by Jill Martin, and will be representing California at the National FFA Convention and National Finals Career Development Expo.

The Light Horse Judging team, consisting of freshmen Emily Cooper, Butch Aguiar and Madalyn Elliott, rounded out a great first year in judging horses for confirmation as well as under saddle.

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