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Local FFA members excel

Local high school FFA members excelled at the 80th National FFA Convention held recently in Indianapolis, Ind.

Julisa Astle, of Bear River High School FFA, won second place nationally for extemporaneous speaking at the convention last week. Travis Michael Gomes, of the Nevada Union High School FFA chapter, was one of four finalists in the agricultural education category.

The convention drew an estimated 2,000 people from across the United States.



Astle graduated from Bear River in June and is a freshman at Sierra College, majoring in communication. The FFA year follows the calendar year, allowing Astle to continue competing on the Bear River team, she said.

“It was amazing,” Astle said of her victory. “It assured me I am in the right major in college. I’d love to give speeches my whole life.”




Astle competed with 47 state winners and progressed through the preliminary and semi-final rounds to reach the finals. Her speech in the final round addressed the topic, “Is all erosion caused by human activity?”

“In extemporaneous speaking, you don’t know what you’re going to talk about until 30 minutes before the speech,” Astle said. “That was the most daunting and exhilarating part of the competition.”

Astle received a $1,000 scholarship for making it to the finals.

“Some of the most important things I’ve learned from FFA are life skills like public speaking and how to work in a team and be successful,” Astle said. “I’ve learned how to lose with grace and win with humility. Those are important lessons in life.”

Gomes gave a two-minute speech on how he promoted agriculture in Nevada County through the FFA program. He then was interviewed by a panel of judges, he said.

As a finalist, Gomes received a plaque and $500, he said.

“I was more nervous than anything about getting interviewed,” Gomes said. “Within our chapter, we did some practice interviews, and that helped a lot.”

Gomes is a sophomore at Butte College in Oroville, Calif. He’s majoring in agriculture.

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To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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