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Lodi High School grads rank in top 4 at National FFA Convention

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Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 5:58 am, Thu Nov 8, 2012.

Two Lodi High School graduates were among the top four in the nation for projects recognized recently at the National FFA Convention held in Indiana.

Current students also ranked high, including Galt High School's Agriculture Issues team. It was a national silver emblem team and placed fifth overall in the national competition after competing against 38 other teams.

Lodi High graduates Courtney Miller, of the Class of 2012, and Yesenia Huerta, of the Class of 2011, were named National Proficiency Finalists in August for their work on their supervised agriculture experience project. Miller was a finalist in small animal production and care, while Huerta was a finalist in fruit production.

Both took second place in their respective categories and received $500 and an award plaque.

Senior Cole Lauchland placed third in the nation for his project in the National Agriscience Contest. He spent 10 months researching the effect of different levels of pruning on grapevines. Lauchland collected data on the weight of the grape bunches, the number of bunches, the weight of the cane and the sugar levels, along with other information. He competed against 24 students in his division. All gave a 10-minute presentation of their project, then answered questions. His third place win earned a $200 scholarship.

Galt High FFA members Erica Duro, Gabrielle Franke, Hunter Hansen, Selena Lomeli and Lia Van Egmond chose the subject "Raw Milk: Ban It or Drink Up?" as their topic. They, along with other Galt FFA members, researched both sides of the topic including the scientific and economic elements of the subject, according to a press release.

The Agriculture Issues Career Development event is about analyzing and informing the community about an important agriculture issue, creating a portfolio and delivering a presentation that stresses both the pros and cons of the agriculture issue to a panel of judges. This event helps students develop critical thinking, problem solving and formal communication skills.

The Galt team created an eight-page analytical portfolio and memorized a 15-minute presentation. Their presentation was given earlier this spring to the California Milk Advisory Board, California Dairy Council and the highest levels of leadership in the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

At the convention, the team presented in competitive brackets to panels of judges including university professors, government officials and business leaders in agriculture. They were also subjected to 10 minutes of open questions by the judges in regard to their presentation.

After the preliminary round, the team moved on and was ranked in the top 16 states, qualifying members to compete in the semifinals the next day. The Galt FFA Ag Issues team ultimately placed in the top four for the portfolio score, earned fifth place overall and received a national silver emblem award.

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