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Past Chapter News


By: Dakota West
February, 9th, 2017

FFA Week

Merced, CA - February 5th through February 9th was El Capitan FFA’s, FFA Week celebration. Monday started the festivities off with the first ever El Capitan Ag Rally which hosted three competitions, two class vs class and one teacher to teacher. Tuesday was the Aggie Olympics where teams of 4-5 competed in a relay of hauling shaving bags, saddling them, roping a goat statue, and then putting a button-up on before chugging some milk. While some people weren’t too happy with the milk there was a great deal of laughter. On Wednesday there was the annual tractor pull competition where groups of 5 pulled one of the tractors in an attempt for the best time, this year it was 9 seconds. Thursday was Kiss the Pig, Mr Sanchez, a teacher at ECHS had to pucker up. Friday, for the first time, there was Pie a teacher in the face. All in all FFA week was a success and loads of fun!

2017 Year In Review

By: Dakota West
January, 12th, 2018

Merced, CA- This year, and the last stretch of 2017 started off with our annual Welcome Back BBQ. The officers, although nervous, did a fantastic job with their first meeting. Afterwards, the air was filled with laughs and full bellies abound. Our very next meeting held new friends from the Le Grande FFA chapter. Playing softball and eating hot dogs can’t help but bring people together. It wasn’t long after this that the annual Harvest Carnival was held. Screams filled the air from the best-haunted house in chapter history, sweet tooth fiends were stumped with caramel apples. Those of us who prefer less terrifying activities tested their luck at the pumpkin bowl. The season cheer lasted through the night. Only a month later, Greenhand officers were elected at the Fall Banquet. Prior to this meeting students got together and donated numerous parts of a Thanksgiving meal Bellies once again stuffed, the chapter didn’t do much more than socializing.. When put together about a dozen full Thanksgiving meals were created and donated. At the next chapter meeting though it was the exact opposite. The December Game Night Meeting had a nacho bar, that did NOT, last long. In addition to numerous games, the most popular two being Pie Face and Connect Four. During these festivities, some of the students took the time to decorate Christmas trees that were later donated to families who couldn’t afford them for our Christmas Tree Drive. Throughout all of this, and continuing now, the El Capitan FFA Chapter has a program called Lawns of Love. Students will take repaired/serviced lawn mowers and mow lawns for those that can’t do it themselves as well as can’t afford it. On top of all these wonderful activities, we had two teams and three competitions: cotton judging, first year, vine pruning and project comp. Things are only just starting to get busy though, buckle up and prepare for the real fun in 2018.

Christmas Tree Drive

By: Dakota West
December, 15th, 2017

Merced, CA-Numerous families have their own holiday traditions, many of these involve one of the most popular Christmas symbols: Christmas trees. Families often get together to either, cut down their own tree, choose one from a lot, and or for the decorations. It came to the El Capitan - Merced FFA Chapter’s attention that some of the families in their community couldn’t provide their own trees. The Community Development Committee asked around and gathered the trees themselves, while the students in the chapter brought everything from lights to ornaments. At our December Game Night Meeting many people came together to decorate the trees in preparation for donation. All in all, the members not only had fun, but also worked together to help their community.

Thanksgiving Basket Drive

By: Dakota West
November, 9th, 2017

Merced, CA- The El Capitan FFA Chapter held a Thanksgiving Basket drive for the first half of November. Together the chapter brought in items for a full Thanksgiving dinner, totaling in twelve complete baskets. With help from the school counselors, an anonymous list of students and families from our local community was made for us to deliver baskets to.  Prior to delivery, a few students helped organize items and complete the baskets so they would be ready for delivery. One of the students who helped, Maria Rodriguez, said this when asked about the anonymity,​ “I think that knowing that the baskets went out to help families in need of students in our school is enough to know because it makes me happy knowing that we can provide someone with a Thanksgiving Dinner they might not have had if we weren't able to provide them with.”​ When speaking on the project as a whole Maria said,​ “Organizing the Thanksgiving Dinner baskets was something that made me feel great because I felt I was giving back to people in need in my community.”​ When asked about her motivation she responded saying, “Giving back to my community has always been important to me because I believe everyone should give a little back to our community that gives us so much. Some of us are more fortunate than others to have what we have that others can not have, which is why I think it is important for us to be grateful for all the things we have, not only that but to always give to those in need when we can and to help people in our community when possible.” It’s always nice to know that there are people in the coming generations that care so much about giving back. After the final baskets were ready, community liaison(s) delivered them to the families in need.

Cotton Judging Team Completes First Year in Competition

By: Dakota West
October, 28th 2017

Merced, CA- The El Capitan FFA Chapter had their first Cotton Judging team this year, who competed at four competitions, Madera, Corcoran, Modesto Junior College, and State Finals(Fresno State).  El Capitan’s Cotton Judging Team earned their first ribbons on October 28th at the Modesto Junior College Winter Field day, a week before State Finals. The first ribbons were, Lint 4th High Team, Bolls 3rd High Team, Sariah Avila 2nd High Individual and Kailey Akers 5th High Individual. The team was super pumped after their first ribbons, despite this State Finals loomed high above, complications arose and everyone stressed trying to compete at State. Before every competition there are always nerves. Those little butterflies in your stomach. Inside this competition, Dakota West, says “Those butterflies we all get, those didn’t really show up until registration. After the competition got under way, the first part is always a test, it calmed down. But there are so many parts that sometimes specific parts of the competition could get their own jitters. The first time giving reasons, that was anxiety up the wazoo. Things turned out pretty well though. Especially for a first time.” Next year the team plans to come back raring to go. Sariah Avila said, "It was great to have a new teacher run a team. Those on the team got to know Mr. Ortiz better and this year is was a nice dip in the water for the cotton industry. In addition to this I learned some stuff that will help with my other CDE's.” If you’re interested in joining the team talk to Mr. Ortiz.

Halloween Carnival

By: Dakota West
October, 28th 2017

Merced , CA - The El Capitan FFA Chapter’s Halloween Carnival Meeting was held on October 25th from 6-8pm. There were about 110 members at the meeting, two of which were the visiting Mariposa Chapter Treasurer and Secretary, and the entire night was filled with fun and scares. Nick Rohme, Junior, said, “Donut on a string was really fun because it was just another eating competition. It was great to be with friends.” Donut on a string was one of more popular activities offered. The most popular was a toss up between Pumpkin Bowling and Candy Apple making. Evan Myrtue, another Junior had this to say about it, “Candy apple station was probably the best because everyone had the opportunity to individualize their design. It’s a tradition for Halloween.” Although Sariah Avila, also a Junior, said, “Pumpkin bowling was the most interactive of the activities. The challenge we set was to get a strike but only Tyler Van Winkle was the only person to get one winning the jackpot of tickets we set. The members had a lot of fun cheering each other on.

Merced-Mariposa Sectional Opening and Closing

By: Dakota West
October 12th, 2017

Gustine, CA - On October 11th Gustine High School and their FFA chapter hosted the annual Merced-Mariposa Section, Opening and Closing ceremonies contest.  In this competition teams are made of six students, pseudo-officers, who run through the FFA Opening-Closing Ceremonies. For this competition teams are judged based off of how well they had their roles memorized, poise and dignity (how well they hold themselves), official uniform, and individual behavior. This particular competition is limited to freshmen teams, and the chapter officers. There were ninety-one total freshmen teams present from all fifteen chapters. With so many freshmen teams, the numbers are divided between rooms and judges of which each room has a set of outstanding officers and then, based on scores, a category from Bronze to Gold. The El Capitan FFA had brought three freshmen teams, two of which earned silver, one a gold. The officer team also won gold. From the freshman teams, Heather Baker won Outstanding Reporter, and Alyssa Widdick won Outstanding President. A difference for the officer teams, there are three placed teams for top scores, traditionally first through third. Congratulations to Gustine, Hilmar and Livingston FFA Chapter officers for placing so.

Chapter Officer Leadership Conference - CLOC

By: Dakota West
October 12th, 2017

Modesto, CA- On October 7th, 2017 the Central Region Chapter Officer Leadership Conference took place at Gregori High School in Modesto, California. 73 Chapters attended. The El Capitan Officers all had a great deal of fun meeting other officers as well as the State and Regional officers. After the opening ceremonies and business officers were separated into groups with a set schedule of rotations of leadership workshops. In each of these various skills or messages were given or taught to officers in hopes the bring them back to their chapters. In addition to these workshops officers got to hear the moving keynote address of national officer nominee Breanna Holbert. After all the festivities were done all officers had a period of reflection, looking into themselves to help release the weights of their own problems off their shoulders. All in all, the Chapter Officer Leadership Conference was an amazing experience that by itself makes the FFA Chapter Officer workload worth it.

Chapter Exchange Softball Meeting

By: Dakota West
September 19th, 2017

Merced , CA - On Tuesday, September 19, 2017 El Capitan FFA invited Le Grand FFA for a chapter vs chapter softball game. The El Capitan FFA hosted, supplied hot dogs, water and chips. Le Grand FFA brought about 11 members. We had a great deal of fun together. Some of us played for the visiting team for more even teams. Evan Myrtue was one of these and actually hit a homerun for the Le Grand FFA. After the game and food the Le Grand officers invited El Capitan FFA to their October meeting game, more details on that will be released later.

Greenhand Leadership Conference

By: Dakota West
September 18th 2017

Fresno, CA - The Greenhand Leadership Conference is a freshman only conference all about making the newest members feel welcomed and excited. I spoke with three of the ten members that went on this trip with Mr. McKenna and Mr. Faria. The ones I talked to were; Callahan Camp, Miranda Barber, and Alyssa Whidick. According to them the conference was a lot of fun, those hosting worked to get them hyped about agriculture and the FFA. In addition to this they worked on leadership and team building skills. I was also informed about the "Three R's: Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships." There may or may not have been some standing on tables and chairs, but who knows all part of the fun I guess!

Welcome Back BBQ

By: Dakota West
August 29th 2017

Merced,CA- The Welcome Back BBQ had an amazing turnout this year. There was a great deal of new faces all of which we loved to see, on top of that we had a few alumni come for support. Our offices spent some time mingling with the members, but we knew better than to ignore the amazing parental support. After everyone got some of our amazing food we took them outside for our activity.

This year our activity, we played The Great Wind Blows. For this game we had everyone besides a single individual stand in designated spots to make a circle. The extra person stood in the middle and said a little something about themself or their interests. Once this was said any person in the circle who related had to run to a new spot in the circle(the person in the middle ran too). The odd one out started a new round. We threw in a new addition and made people introduce themselves to those around them after moving. When we first started playing people were a bit shy. But it didn’t take long for running and fun filled, semi-controlled chaos to ensue.


Our next major meeting will be September 19th and we’ll be inviting Le Grand FFA Chapter to play softball with us. We’ll be feeding everyone some BBQ-ed hot dogs and chips with a drink. Look forward to seeing you all there!

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