Success on the big stage

Pictured at this year’s National FFA Convention are front, from left: Marissa Johnson, Jaysa Davis, Gabby Swan, Sydney LaVoy, and Madison Johnson. Back, from left: Advisor Elizabeth Johnson, Zeke Dolan, Jonathon Erbes, Will Alf, Parker Lemburg, Brian Erbes, Adam Hicks and Dalton Timmerman. Submitted photo

Ruppert, Johnson earn medals at FFA National Convention

A pair of Tracy Area High School students made the very most of their trip to Indianapolis for this year’s FFA National Convention.

Zachery Ruppert earned gold at nationals for his Fruit Production Proficiency, and Marissa Johnson took home silver in Prepared Public Speaking, finishing 16th out of 49 competitors.

“I am proud that I received gold at nationals for my fruit production proficiency,” Ruppert said. “I admit that I was disappointed that I wasn’t a national finalist again this year, but receiving gold is a huge honor.”

Ruppert has been fully entrenched in the family gardening business for a number of years and has developed a skill for record-keeping, which is an important aspect of a proficiency.

“After every farmers market or school or restaurant delivery, I write down how much of the fruit or vegetable I sold and how much I sold the produce for,” he said.

Ruppert got involved in the garden business when his grandparents happened to have some extra produce from their garden. They asked him and his sister, Haylee, if they were interested in trying to sell it, and the rest is produce history.

“The next year, we started to get more involved in gardening,” he said. “Each year, the size of the garden increased, and so did our profits. Along with the watermelon and muskmelon I grow, I also raise 10 different types of vegetables in my garden. I enjoy seeing my plants go from a tiny, little seed, to a fully grown plant that is producing food for everyone to enjoy.”

Johnson, meanwhile, placed in the Top 16 out of 49 competitors in Prepared Public Speaking at the National FFA Convention.

The Tracy Area High School FFA Chapter also won a national chapter award.

“I’ve been a theater kid, speech kid all my life, so I’m used to being in front of people,” said Johnson, who was first runner-up in this year’s Miss Tracy scholarship program. “Talking in front of my family is more nerve-racking than talking in front of strangers for me. I’ve done it so much now, it’s just part of me.”

Johnson’s speech topic centered on society’s quest for perfection, which leads to a high amount of wasted produce.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.