Press Releases

Oregon FFA gets new statewide officers


    REDMOND, Ore. — The final morning of the 95th annual Oregon FFA State Convention was a pulse-pounding affair as delegates gathered to elect a new slate of officers.

    The process combines formal voting procedures with stadium rock concert theatrics — before each winner is announced, the house lights go dark, energetic music plays and colorful stage lights dart over the crowd, with hundreds of spectators clapping in unison.

    When it was finished, six officers were chosen from a pool of 10 candidates to lead Oregon FFA for 2023-24.

    This year’s team includes President Jael Cruikshank, of Bend; Vice President Kylie Temple, of Hermiston; Secretary Ryan Mizee, of Tillamook; Treasurer Camille Peters, of Elkton; Reporter Alicia Venegas, of Lost River; and Sentinel Mary Thiel, of Joseph.

    It was the culmination of the four-day convention March 16-19 at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond, which drew an estimated 2,500 students from across Oregon to compete in FFA events and attend leadership-building workshops.

    For the next year, the officers will travel thousands of miles visiting with all 11,000-plus FFA members and 109 local chapters across the state.

    “Something that we all talked about as candidates a lot is that we want to connect with the members,” Thiel said. “Connection is super important. We want to make sure members feel that they are loved, and that they are served.”

    The idea of connection was a recurring theme as officers discussed their own high school and FFA careers, and goals for the coming year.

    Venegas said she was inspired to run for state office while attending last summer’s Southern Oregon FFA District leadership camp.

    “We were all sitting around the campfire,” Venegas said. “Everybody was singing, dancing and telling stories. There was so much love. My heart was overwhelmed with joy. I knew then that I wanted to do whatever I could to continue to impact the lives of our (organization’s) members.”

    “Cruikshank is following the steps of her older brother, Josiah, who served as Oregon FFA state president in 2019-20, and National FFA western region vice president in 2021-22.

    But Cruikshank said she has come to learn that success isn’t solely defined by titles and accolades.

    “Through my FFA years, I’ve learned what success really means,” she said. “It’s not about a banner or an office, but it’s how you impact the people around you and how you treat them. Even if you have all the awards and achievements in the state, that doesn’t make you a successful person.”

    Mizee described himself as a person driven by his passions. He said he wants to help his fellow members find their own purpose in life.

    “You should take every opportunity that comes your way,” he said. “FFA is an amazing place to fail, because when you do fail, it’s OK.”

    No matter what a person’s interests or skills may be, FFA is a place for everyone, Peters said.

    “Whether you were raised on a farm your entire life, or you’ve never seen a cow before, you have a place and we’re here for you,” she said.

    As FFA officers, Temple said the team has a unique opportunity to be a light in many students’ lives.

    “The feeling that I’m feeling right now is just a sense of pride, but not necessarily for personal accomplishments,” Temple said. “But just because I know this is an amazing team and we have the opportunity to represent some amazing members.”

    Bend Resident Elected National FFA Officer

    November 3, 2021


    Bend, Oregon – This past week at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Josiah Cruikshank, Bend, was elected Western Region Vice President of the National FFA (Future Farmers of America).

    Cruikshank participated in FFA and agriculture classes at Mountain View High School, serving as FFA Vice-President in 2018-2019 and was elected to serve as Oregon FFA State President in 2019-2020. He is currently a student at Oregon State University studying business administration and mechanical engineering and will devote the next year to representing nearly 735,000 FFA members nationwide. National FFA Officers spend a year representing the FFA across the nation in forums varying from local classrooms to corporate boardrooms. They lead member events, advocate with policy makers and supporters to advance the interests of the FFA and agricultural education programs.

    “It’s definitely surreal,” Cruikshank said. “To actually be given this platform, to hopefully live a life of service for the betterment of FFA members is definitely a privilege.”

    Cruikshank started his FFA career by taking an agriculture class his freshman year at Mountain View High. He was active early on, raising and showing hogs and participating in leadership competitions. According to Mountain View Agriculture Instructor Jeff Papke, “Josiah was one of those students we knew would be an outstanding FFA leader from the day he stepped into our classroom, he worked hard, cared about doing things right, and cared about the people around him. We couldn’t be happier to see him elected to national office.”

    Cruikshank said he is approaching this year as an opportunity to truly serve the FFA and its members. “I think all any of us can do is live our purpose in service to the people around us,” he said.

    FFA is a dynamic youth organization that changes lives and prepares members for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

    Oregon FFA and Les Schwab Are Driving Away Hunger

    October 1, 2021


    Oregon FFA and Les Schwab Tires Centers know the need to help fight hunger is greater than ever. Those affected by food insecurity are in need year-round, especially now as the holidays are fast approaching. Since 2013 Les Schwab Tire Centers of Oregon has partnered with Oregon FFA in a Drive Away Hunger Initiative to help raise as much food and awareness as possible. The initiative will take place the entire month of October.

    We urge you to join us in driving away hunger by dropping non-perishable food donations at any Oregon Les Schwab Tire Center, Wilco, or Grange Co-op store through October 31st.

    The timing of this initiative is important to help our local food banks and pantries gear up for the upcoming holiday demands. This special partnership allows FFA members to live out their motto of “learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live and living to serve.” FFA members follow in the footsteps set by the employees at Les Schwab Tire Centers as you see them generously giving back to their local communities daily. Over the past 8 years, this effort has raised nearly three million meals for those in need!

    The Oregon FFA is part of the National FFA Organization, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America. It is a national youth organization of 760,113 student members, all preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business, and technology of agriculture. There are 8,817 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Oregon FFA is made up of more than 11,000 members in 109 chapters throughout the state. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

    To learn more, visit the Oregon FFA Facebook page, #ORFFADriveAwayHunger, and


    Phil Ward Returns to Roots as CEO of Oregon FFA

    March 16, 2021

    Corvallis, OR

    Phil Ward is a familiar face across Oregon’s agriculture and natural resource industries.

    He will now lead Oregon FFA as its CEO.

    Ward started his career as a high school agriculture educator and FFA advisor and taught seven years in two school districts. After leaving teaching in 1984, Ward has served as Executive Vice President of the Oregon Farm Bureau, Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon Department of Water Resources, and as State Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Oregon. Most recently, Ward’s heart for education won out and he returned to teaching as an instructor in Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

    In announcing Ward’s selection as the CEO Kirk Maag, Chair of the Oregon FFA Joint Board, said he’s “thrilled to have Phil on board.” Maag said, “Oregon FFA will benefit from Phil’s experience managing complex budgets, leading mission-driven teams, building grassroots support, and collaborating with volunteer boards of directors. With Phil’s experience and deep roots in Oregon agriculture, I can’t think of anyone better to lead our organization forward!”

    Ward said, “For me, joining Oregon FFA is like coming full circle. I started my career as a high school agriculture educator and FFA advisor. To now have the opportunity to serve an organization that has had such a significant impact on the lives of so many young people, mine included, is extremely meaningful both professionally and personally. In my view, this job is about two key things: helping students have the best possible experience during their time as FFA members and supporting the agriculture educators who lead and work with those students every single day. I am extremely excited to be a part of this team.”

    Ward will succeed Shawn Dooley, who served as Oregon FFA’s CEO in 2019 and 2020. Maag said that “Shawn’s steady leadership allowed Oregon FFA to not only survive but thrive during the pandemic. We were fortunate to work with Shawn and our exceptional team of dedicated employees to ensure Oregon FFA continued to deliver programs and experiences to students despite the obstacles of the past years.” Ward echoed those sentiments: “There has been a really solid foundation laid by past and current FFA leadership. The organization is in great shape with members from every corner of the state with a quality group of agriculture educators leading and teaching them. It’s my job, and that of the rest of the state FFA staff, to build on the foundation that’s in place and help Oregon FFA grow and prosper in the years ahead.”

    JD Cant, who serves as Vice-Chair of the Oregon FFA Joint Board, perhaps summed it up best remarking about Ward’s hire: “As a agriculture teacher in northeast Oregon, I am beyond excited to have a leader with the experience, expertise, and skills like Phil Ward to move Oregon FFA “Onward” into the future.” Cant explained, “It gives me great solace to know that Phil Ward will lead our staff, our students, our supporters, and our teachers and is a leader who has truly lived it all, and has walked in many of the shoes that many in FFA now wear. Oregon FFA will be better because of his presence in all aspects of Oregon FFA.”

    Official Document: PRESS RELEASE – Phil Ward Hired

    Northwest Farm Credit Services makes $500,000 Endowment Gift to Support Oregon FFA

    January 6, 2021

    Corvallis, OR

    The Oregon FFA Foundation received its largest single gift with a donation of $500,000 from Northwest Farm Credit Services to establish an “Oregon FFA Today and Tomorrow” endowment.

    Foundation President, Kirk Maag said, “We are deeply humbled and grateful to Northwest Farm Credit Services and the leadership of Brent Fetsch and his team for their continuing and generous investment in the lives of FFA members. This ground-breaking seed gift gives us the foundation to establish an endowment fund that will provide support for the Oregon FFA Association in perpetuity. This will ensure that Oregon FFA can continue to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.”

    Brent Fetsch, Oregon President of Northwest Farm Credit Services stated, “As part of Northwest Farm Credit’s stewardship commitment to improve the lives of our customers, communities, and industries we serve, we are investing funds in education and research across the Northwest.” Fetsch, a former Oregon State FFA Officer and current secretary of the Oregon FFA Foundation Board of Directors said, “Students who participate in FFA are more likely to graduate from high school and 93% continue their education beyond high school.”

    Fetsch said, “We hope others will join us by investing in ‘Oregon FFA Today and Tomorrow’ to provide a stable source of funding well into the future. We are grateful for the impactful work Oregon FFA does for over 11,000 students, communities and agriculture. We are especially thankful for the over 160 agricultural science teachers and FFA advisors who are a powerful and positive influence on these young lives. We are proud to partner with Oregon FFA to achieve great things for agriculture and rural communities.”

    Oregon FFA Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. The mission of the Foundation is to coordinate sustainable, long-term funding for agriculture education and Oregon FFA.


    Betsy Hartley, Development Officer, Oregon FFA Foundation,, 541-231-1472
    Kirk Maag, Board President, Oregon FFA Foundation,, 541-881-9613
    Brent Fetsch, Oregon President, Northwest Farm Credit Services,, 503-373-3039

    Official Document: NWFCS Press Release_Jan 6, 2021