Orion FFA receives National Gold Emblem

Mindy Carls
Orion FFA’s State Champion Ag Issues team was recognized at the Illinois FFA convention last month. From left are Ben Martens, Melissa Fielding, Amelia Martens and Alyssa Zwicker. Not pictured is Ali Seys. They will compete at the national convention this fall in Indianapolis.

Orion FFA harvested numerous awards at the 81st annual Illinois FFA Convention last month.

The Prairie Capital Convention Center, Springfield, hosted the state meeting from Tuesday, June 9, through Thursday, June 11.

Advised by Jay Solomonson, the Orion chapter received the National Chapter Gold Emblem Award. 

The Gold Emblem recognizes the highest rank a chapter can receive in the state. It honors an outstanding program of community, chapter and student activities for the past year.

Student activities include contests, leadership training and scholarships.

Other area chapters receiving the Gold Emblem award were Aledo, Galva, Geneseo, Kewanee, ROWVA and Sherrard.

Eighty-five chapters received the Gold Emblem; 29, the Silver Emblem; and 60, the Bronze Emblem.

The Orion chapter also earned three more Gold Emblems, one each for Community Development, Chapter Development and Student Development. 

Among the 89 chapters picking up Gold Emblem for Community Development were Aledo, Farmington, Galva, Geneseo, Monmouth-Roseville, ROWVA and Sherrard. Another 23 chapters were awarded Silver Emblems and 60 were presented with Bronze Emblems. 

The 79 chapters recognized for chapter development included Aledo, Galva, Geneseo, Kewanee and ROWVA. Silver Emblems went to 35 chapters and Bronze Emblems to 62 chapters.

Schools receiving Gold Emblems for Student Development included Aledo, Galva, Geneseo, Kewanee, Monmouth-Roseville, ROWVA and Sherrard. Twenty-seven chapters received Silver Emblems and 63 chapters, Bronze Emblems.

Orion FFA was recognized four times for having the top activities program in its section.

The chapter received the Section 3 Illinois Bankers’ Award, sponsored by the Illinois Bankers Association to recognize the best activities program in each of the state’s 25 sections.

Orion also received the Section 3 awards for Community Development, Chapter Development and Student Development.

Amelia Martens received two awards. She was given a Silver Certificate Chapter President’s Award, one of 14 so honored.

The Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leaders sponsored the award for chapter presidents who have done an outstanding job. 

Martens also was named one of five state finalists in the GROWMARK essay contest for high school students in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. The topic was “Homegrown Fuels: Good for American Agriculture.”

Besides serving as Orion FFA president in 2008-09 and 2009-10, Martens is the Section 3 president for the coming year.

Ben Martens is on the Section 3 officer team as sentinel.

Also at the state convention, the Orion chapter received the Illinois FFA Century Challenge Award. It honors chapters that have FFA membership equal to 100 percent of the enrollment in ag classes. 

Other area schools receiving the Century Challenge Award were AlWood, Galva, Kewanee, Aledo, Knoxville, ROWVA, Alexis United and Westmer.

Orion FFA was one of 79 chapters receiving the $1,000 Club Award for collecting $1,000 to $1,999 during the annual Illinois FFA?Foundation fund drive. The foundation has supported FFA for 61 years, and it reaped more than $400,000 during the 2008-09 collection.

The award also was presented to AlWood, Bureau Valley, Galesburg, Galva, Kewanee, Wethersfield, Monmouth-Roseville, Rockridge and Westmer.

In other chapter news, Solomonson has been nominated for the Teacher of Excellence Award presented by the Illinois Association of Vocational Agricultural Teachers.

The State Champion Ag Communications team was honored at the Illinois FFA Convention earlier this summer in Springfield. From left are Orion FFA members Craig Shehorn, Amelia Martens, Melissa Fielding and Alyssa Zwicker. Not pictured is Sara Clifton. They will compete at the national convention in October in Indianapolis.