Central High FFA teams awarded national silver rating

Lexus Ryman, 17, of Edinburg, left, a student at Central High School, and her teacher Sherry Heishman, right, sort through fruit orders that arrived at the school on Monday for their fundraiser for the agriculture department. Heishman received the national FFA agriscience teacher of the year award last month. Rich Cooley/Daily

Members of Central High School’s chapter of the National FFA Organization achieved one of their best ratings ever at the national convention and expo in Louisville, Kentucky, tjos fall.

The chapter was named a three-star chapter, said Sherry Heishman, agriscience teacher and FFA adviser — “the highest rating that you could earn on the national level.”

The club also earned a silver rating, placing team members among the second group of highest-scoring chapters in their competition category, said Heishman. The food science team scored at around 16th place, as Heishman recalled earlier this week, and members of the meat judging team came in 21st place.

The national convention and expo, held Oct. 30-Nov. 1, is the highest competition the National FFA Organization offers, Heishman said. But students aren’t the only ones eligible to win awards.

Heishman herself left Louisville with a prestigious title — Agriscience Teacher of the Year. She accepted the award at last month’s National Association of Agriculture Education convention in Nashville, Tennessee, and earned $1,500 for her students to use however they choose. The students likely will purchase equipment for the classroom.

Though it’s an honor to be chosen Agriscience Teacher of the Year, Heishman was more inclined to sidestep any recognition for herself and instead pile praise on her students.

Winning at the national level, she said, “It’s about showing what our kids can do.”

“It’s pretty cool for the kids to get that money to be able to buy things that they want,” she added.

FFA chapters are invited to attend the national convention each year, whether or not they plan to compete, but at Central High the rules are a little different.

Students who go to nationals must qualify for a competing team or be in the 12th grade, a mandate Heishman said makes the experience more meaningful for those who get to go.

“We’ve always done it that way since I’ve been here ’cause it’s always a big deal to go to [the] national convention,” she said.

Elsewhere in the county, Tiffany Heishman, an eighth grade student at Signal Knob Middle School in Strasburg, earned a gold medal in the Food Products and Processing Systems Division 1 category of the National FFA Agriscience Fair, a competition for FFA members who are interested in the science and technology of agriculture.

County students qualified for the agriscience fair by conducting a scientific research project pertaining to the agriculture and food science industries and by presenting their findings to a panel of judges with a display and report.

They competed in the categories of animal systems; environmental services or natural resource systems; food products and processing systems; plant systems; power, structural and technical systems; and social systems.

All national participants previously were selected as state winners at their state agriscience fairs, and earn national competition eligibility after being placed in the top 15 within their respective categories.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com