Woodlake alum excels in FFA to the highest degree

Woodlake High School alumna Edith Guijon is awarded an American FFA Degree at the 94th annual National FFA Convention and Expo

WOOLAKE – Woodlake High School alumna Edith Guijon is still pursuing her degree in agriculture at Fresno State but she already has a agricultural degree from FFA.

Guijon earned the youth agriculture program’s highest honor when she received the American FFA Degree at the 94th National FFA Convention and Expo in October. She was joined by fellow WHS alumnus Izahia Benevidez, who received a silver emblem, and three current Woodlake students who received gold emblems.

Guijon is a third-year undergraduate at Fresno State majoring in agricultural communication. The FFA Degree is an award that shows a member’s hard work and dedication toward the chapter and state association.

“Edith Guijon, when she first started here, she wasn’t really outgoing, but if you talk to her now, she is a confident, young woman,” Woodlake principal Mike Burchett said.

To be eligible for the FFA degree, students must have: been an active member for the past three years with a record of participation in activities on the chapter and state level; at least three years of secondary school instruction in an agricultural education program; a record of outstanding leadership abilities; community involvement; and have achieved a high school scholastic record of “C” or better as certified by the principal or superintendent.

Burchett said FFA is one of the most popular organizations on campus. Whether students are in FFA or not, the main goal is to prepare them once they go off to college or any career after high school. Students may take FFA and not end up in an agricultural field, but they carry the knowledge and skills FFA offers.

“It’s a great program, a great set of kids,” Burchett said. “They build student confidence and student capacity to be outgoing, professional and work together, and that’s what businesses want to hire.”

WHS offers four different ag classes—biology, earth science, mechanics, as well as business and sales marketing. FFA introduces students to a broad range of career opportunities available in agriculture. These classes offer students a chance to test their creativity, start a business by keeping and reinvesting their profit to be successful. There are many opportunities to attend events such as nationals to connect or sell your product with companies across the country.

WHS finished in seventh place overall at this year’s National presentation, the Woodlake FFA chapter’s first in-person event since COVID began. Last year’s event was virtual, and students still managed to pull through with a first-place title.

“I get to work early and they’ve beaten me here by 6:30 a.m.,” Bruchett said. “Their hard work has shown results.”

One of the FFA advisors, Donald Thornburg, is in his 10th year at WHS and teaches agriculture mechanic courses. He attended Fresno State and received his degree in animal science. Teaching was never in his plan until he realized how rewarding and fun it would be to share his knowledge with students.

“I have kids that are from my very first graduating class and still come back and teach. One of them teaches at Granite Hills, we see her all the time. It’s very rewarding when those kids come or you see like with nationals’ kids are all excited about it,” Thornburg said.

Paige Perez, Jessica Henderson and Reagan Henderson are the three students who were recognized individually with a gold emblem. Henderson is WHS class treasurer and has been involved in FFA for three years. After high school, he hopes to continue his education at Louisiana State University, studying ag business. His career goal is to own a national retailing business similar to Costco.

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