By CHRIS COLLINS
Five members of Baker's FFA team were named the top ag mechanics in the state during a competition at Linn-Benton Community College on Tuesday.
The Ag Mechanics team will advance to competition at the National FFA Convention and Expo Oct. 24-26 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.
Senior Cameron Kerns topped all other contenders to take the first-place individual award in the Ag Mechanics Career Development Event.
Randy Newman, FFA adviser, said the team was rated in these six areas of competition: tractor power, identifying the parts of a plow, electrical house wiring, electrical motors, arc welding and acetylene welding.
Students also were required to take a written test to evaluate their basic knowledge of mechanics.
In addition to Kerns, members of the team are seniors Joel Rohner, the third- high individual competitor, Mark Voboril, who placed sixth overall, and Talon Colton. Junior Mickayla Hall is the team's fifth member.
Baker FFA teams also competed in livestock judging, meat judging, and dairy foods during the Career Development Event Tuesday.
The Livestock Judging team placed sixth in competition with 25 teams. Team members are Luke Coomer, Jake Dunlap, Ty Thomas, Jennie Foltz and Josie Skidgel.
The Meat Judging team placed 10th of 22 teams. Members are Luke Coomer, Jake Dunlap, Kisha Garner and Ty Thomas.
The Dairy Foods team placed eighth out of 24 teams. Members are Mark Voboril, Cameron Kerns, Alena Ellson, Joel Rohner and Wyatt Lee.
In addition to the five Ag Mechanics Team members, nine other FFA members will be attending the National Convention.
Newman said he wasn't surprised that the Ag Mechanics team did so well Tuesday.
"They placed third in state last year and all came back," he said. "I was kind of expecting them to do very well."
Newman expressed appreciation for the efforts of longtime FFA volunteer Curt Jacobs, who coaches the Ag Mechanics Team. Jacobs met with the team from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Wednesday beginning just after Thanksgiving to prepare them for the competition. Jacobs also coached the team that won the state event in 2005, Newman said.
The FFA adviser said the team relies heavily on parent volunteers. Kate Rohner helped transport the team to the state competition, he said. Rohner and Newman drove the students to the contest in two district-owned Suburbans.
Newman added that there's more work to be done to prepare for the National Convention.
"That's a different animal, they do different things there," he said of the Ag Mechanics competition. "We've got to get them together and train them for that contest."
That will be more difficult, with four of the five members graduating this spring, he said, but the team will meet one night a week throughout the summer to prepare.
They Baker FFA Chapter will pay to fly the team to the national event, he said.
FFA fundraisers that will help pay for the trip include the current sale of spring plants at the BHS greenhouse and helping with the Oregon Trail Electric Co-op luncheon scheduled as part of the OTEC annual meeting Saturday at the Baker County Event Center. This fall the FFA members also will be selling calendars and conducting their traditional drive-through barbecue.