FFA team wins state, reflects on experience

FFA team wins state, reflects on experience
Posted on 06/08/2018

Last year, Lynden High School’s Ag Comm team finished second at the FFA state competition. They had higher aspirations for this year, the final year of high school for three of the four on the team. And they delivered, pulling together an inspired performance this spring at state and qualifying for October’s FFA nationals.

“It was good, but stressful,” senior Andie Sahagian says about the state competition. “Our competition was on the last day, so we spent time studying and working.”

The Ag Comm team included each of the four members of the team—Sahagian, senior Alex Strandgard, senior T.J. VanderYacht and junior Bree VanDalen—listening to a press conference and then performing a task. Andie handled the web site aspect, Alex an opinion story, Bree a news story and T.J. a video. They had 90 minutes to create their component. From there, though, the team also had individual testing and a group presentation.

“Last year we didn’t do well on the presentation and worked hard to improve it this year,” Andie says. The team did just that, the only team to score a perfect mark on the presentation.

T.J. says the group had goals, hoping for first, but realizing the hard work may not always result in a win. Waiting an entire day for the final marks was tough, but rewarding when the team was brought on stage and declared the winners.

“I felt relief,” Bree says. “I felt like you could breathe. We wanted to reach our goal and we knew we had made it to nationals.” 

For Andie, she felt the relief, but also the stress of knowing they must keep working moving forward. With three moving beyond LHS—Andie will attend GCU in Phoenix, Alex Whatcom Community College in Bellingham and T.J. the University of Washington in Seattle—the team will continue to work on their craft through the summer and then all come together for the national competition in Indianapolis in October.

Advisors Julie Milstead and John Grubbs say the effort showed both this team and the rest of the LHS FFA members that hard work breeds improvement. “If you work hard and study hard you can win this,” Grubbs says. “I think they all bought into that.” 

“I was just so proud of all of us individually and together,” Andie says. “We were able to represent Lynden as a winning team.”