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Chinook FFA Holds Annual Banquet to Bestow Honors

The Chinook FFA Chapter held its Annual Banquet on Thursday evening, May 2. The banquet began with the recognition of graduating members, featured guest speaker Romulus Hiner, and highlighted the achievements of the membership during the past year. An Honorary Chapter Degree was also presented to Dennis Cross.

Held in the Commercial Building at the Blaine County Fairgrounds, the banquet began with the acknowledgement of several seniors: Aislinn Handy, Wylee Simenson, Landon Keeling, Emma Paulsen, and Sterling Bemis. Handy and Simenson, who served on the Executive Team as 2023-2024 President and Vice President respectively, were additionally honored as recipients of the State FFA Degree, which had been conferred in Billings at the 94th Annual State FFA Convention.

Those presentations were followed by an inspirational message from the Montana FFA Association 2nd Vice President, Romulus Hiner. A student at Harlowton High School and representing the Wheatland Chapter of the FFA, Hiner was elected this past April to lead the Montana FFA in 2024-2025.

Following Hiner's words, achievements were announced. The first honors bestowed were Chapter Discovery Degrees. Intended for seventh and eighth grade members who participate in FFA activities, this is the first degree a member can earn. Recipients of this degree were Bella Brown, Cassidy Darlington, Bryce Elliot, Charley Nissen, Zoe Scofield, Megan Siemens, Lillie Skoyen, and Wacee Simenson. Of these eight members, Zoe Scofield additionally received the Chapter Star Discovery Award. To earn the honor, Scofield acquired the most votes based on her involvement and leadership.

The next awards presented were Greenhand Degrees. The Greenhand FFA Degree is awarded to ninth grade or older members who learn about the FFA history, mission, creed and emblem, as well as make plans for a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). Carter Alisch, Gus Buck, Evan Davies, Kolton DePriest, Kenneth Gruszie, Eyan Hofeldt, Jameson Nordboe, Julian Powell, Oliver Standiford, Rangler Skoyen, and Ross Valdez acquired this honor.

From that group, the chapter's most active first-year member who has presented a plan for a strong SAE and has demonstrated leadership within the FFA is selected to win the Star Greenhand Award. That honor was attained by Oliver Standiford. To prove his eligibility, he recited the FFA Creed for everyone gathered.

Awards proceeded with Chapter FFA Degrees. This degree is awarded to members in tenth grade or higher who are not only involved in chapter activities and community service but also complete the minimum hours of instruction and SAE project growth. Members fulfilling those requirements were Ayden Alisch, Falyn Cecrle, Tucker Crawford, Brockton Elliot, Ashlyn Hofeldt, Ben Hofeldt, Kirbey Hofeldt, Wyatt Olmstead, Britt Powell, Gracie Skoyen, and Kohen Sullivan.

Achieving the Chapter Degree also makes a member eligible for designation as Star Chapter Farmer. This status is awarded every year to the chapter member who has an outstanding SAE in production agriculture and demonstrates the most involvement in all phases of Chapter activities. Falyn Cecrle was chosen as Star Chapter Farmer.

In other awards, Ben Hofeldt earned the Highest Fundraiser Award, and Dennis Cross received the Honorary Chapter Degree. To recognize civilians who have contributed to the Chapter, the Honorary Chapter Degree is awarded to an individual or business that the Chinook FFA Chapter considered most helpful in the past year. Acquiring this Honor was Dennis Cross.

"Dennis has driven our members to almost every single competition. Taking time away from his ranch, he donated his time as a chaperone. Because of the great respect we have for Dennis, he made a perfect candidate for this award," stated Chapter Advisor Mitzi Cecrle.

During a break in the awards, winners were drawn for various raffle items. Katie Jones won the ten yards of screen gravel donated by Pike Construction, Cam Harkness won the handmade quilted throw blanket donated by Trisha Gruszie, and Mike Inman won the Winchester 300 Weatherby gun donated by Henry Gordon.

With the awards portion of the banquet complete, members awaited the announcement of next year's leaders. The 2024-2025 Chinook Chapter Officer team will be Brockton Elliot as President; Madilyn Gruszie, First Vice President;

Oliver Standiford, Second Vice President; Bryce Elliot, Reporter; Falyn Cecrle, Secretary; Ben Hofeldt, Treasurer; Kohen Sullivan, Sentinel; Jacob Metcalf, Parliamentarian, and Ashlyn Hofeldt, Historian.

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