The West Unity Chapter of the Future Farmers of America held their 79th annual Parent-Member Banquet on the evening of April 18 in the Auditeria of the Hilltop Schools. The event was called to order by the FFA officers, Chapter President RyLee McCain presiding. Colin Sabins asked a blessing over the banquet, and the guests were invited to a buffet consisting of boneless smoked pork chops, with mashed potatoes, green beans, corn and dinner rolls, with cake for dessert.
In moving to the awards portion of the program, Tim Maneval recognized the first year members. Receiving their Greenhand Degrees were Justin Athy, Jack Blaisdell, Ethan Dunson, Kaedin Gigax, Scott Goodnight, Kristian Grapengeter, Baiden Jones, George Kunkel, Austin Schaffner, Sam Shilling, Mitchel Tule, Colin Todd and Briea Krabill. Colin Sabins was also recognized as a first year member. To receive a Greenhand Degree, a member must have studied FFA history and operations, parliamentary procedure, livestock science, soil science and woodworking operations. The Greenhand Degree is the first degree that a member of the West Unity FFA can earn.
Isaac VanArsdalen presenting the Outstanding Salesperson Award to Tim Maneval. Mr. Maneval would be called to the stage several times on this evening.
Joe Shilling came to the podium to report on the achievement of the CDE (Career Development Event) teams. The Meats Judging team of Ethan Dunson, Joe Shilling and Isaac VanArsdalen placed 10th overall, while the Rural Soils team of Dunson, Maneval, Sam Shilling, Seth Altaffer, Scott Goodnight, Baiden Jones, Austin Schaffner, Quinn Smith and Mitchel Tule took 15th. The General Livestock team of Smith, Schaffner and George Kunkle placed 28th, with the Urban squad of Justin Athy, Chance Grapengeter, Kristian Grapengeter, Kaedin Gigax and Collin Todd taking home 16th place. The Poultry team, made up of Gigax, McCain, Sam Shilling and Leah Carothers also placed 16th, and the team of Athy, Goodnight, Jones, Maneval and Tule took 15th in Wildlife Management.
Leah Carothers came forward to announce the recipients of the Star Awards. Those being recognized were Quinn Smith who received the Star Award in Livestock Production. Tim Maneval received the Star Award in Crop Production, with Smith and Joe Shilling each receiving the Silver Pin. Joe Shilling won the Placement in Agriculture Star Award, with Leah Carothers getting the Silver Pin, and RyLee McCain and Chance Grapengeter each taking the Bronze Pin. The Home and Farmstead Improvement Star Award also went to Joe Shilling, with Maneval taking the Silver Pin, and Carothers, McCain, and Isaac VanArsdalen each receiving the Bronze Pin.
VanArsdalen was awarded the Gold Pin in Outdoor Recreation.
Mr. Pat King, who after 32 years at the helm of the West Unity Chapter of the FFA, came forward to announce and present the winners of the special awards for the evening. Austin Schaffner won the Scholarship Award, and he returned to the stage with Sam Shilling to receive the Star Greenhand Awards. Tim Maneval was named the recipient of the Star Chapter Farmer Award, and RyLee McCain was presented the Leadership Award.
Mr. King then spoke to the audience and to his FFA members, past and present, about his tenure in Hilltop. “It has been my honor and privilege to serve this community for the past 32 years,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of very, very outstanding people come through this program, and there’s a lot more to come. As I step away from this job, and move on to whatever else I am going to do – and right now I’m not sure what that’s going to be – it’s time to turn the program over to someone else. Mr. (Larry – District Superintendent) Long and Mr. (Steven – Hilltop High School Principal) Riley are in the process of interviewing people, and will be choosing a fine person to come in and take the program to new heights, and maybe even new directions. That’s okay. As long as this community has agriculture, this community needs this program. This school needs this program, but it can’t have it without your backing as parents encouraging your kids to get involved. I appreciate your being willing to do that…to let them come into the program, to take part in it, to hopefully build some skills for themselves to take wherever they’re going, or to build some skills that they take back and bring back to this community as a whole, and this school as a whole.”
Continuing, Mr. King said, “School board members, thank you for continuing to support the program. As I walk away, I hope that those students who have been in my program will continue to seek me out if they have questions, and will continue to come back here, and continue to support whoever follows me. That is what is going to make this program strong.”
Calling attention to the inscriptions on the commemorative mugs that were given out on this evening, Mr. King said, “You can see that this chapter received its charter in 1936, and has been a continuous chapter from that time. It, I think, is the oldest one in Williams County. It has a grand tradition…continue that.”
Prior to the adjournment for the evening, the new officers for the 2015-16 school year were installed. Tim Maneval will take the presidential gavel from RyLee McCain, with Joe Shilling serving as Vice-President, Ethan Dunson as Secretary, and Austin Schaffner as Treasurer. Mitchel Tule will serve as Reporter, Isaac VanArsdalen the Sentinel, and Quinn Smith as the Student Advisor. Leah Carothers takes over Historian duties, with Sam Shilling as Parliamentarian, and RyLee McCain as Chaplin.
Timothy Kays can be reached at
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