Students from El Capitan High School’s Ag Communication and Floriculture FFA team won at the statewide competition Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in May, which booked them a ticket to the national finals in Indianapolis at the end of October.
The Ag Communications team was made up of four students, Nikolas Williams, Copeland Camp, Autumn Miller and Adrian Miao.
The team’s job was to create a media plan for the garden, which they presented to the judges for review. The plan consisted of things like mock commercials and pitching newspaper articles, as well as an exercise where they edited a press release. Individually, Williams designed a website, Camp created a video advertisement, Miller wrote an editorial, and Miao wrote a feature story about the garden.
“The Ag Communications team stepped into the role of someone who’s in public relations or the communications field,” said El Capitan’s FFA advisor Kaylyn Davenport. “They had to create a media plan for a local community garden. And in the media plan they gave strategies for the community garden to increase their reach and awareness. Basically, they’re acting as a communications liaison for them, trying to pitch their media plan to the garden with hopes that the garden picks them as their communications group.”
Miller received the highest score in her portion of the test, and the team placed second in the entire country.
The Floriculture team also consisted of four students. Students Julianna Contreras, Samantha Wade, Annika Cook, and Angela Diaz created various floral arrangements, identified and cut flowers, and created media advertisements.
“Theirs is definitely a beast of a competition, probably even more than ag communications with all that they have to do,” Davenport said.
“They pretend they’re employees at a floral shop. And so they were given a list of all the different things that they had to complete that day. Then they were given an hour to work together to create everything,” she said.
Cook and Diaz each won a Gold Award for their individual performances, and the team won silver overall.
But they weren’t the only students representing El Capitan. Philip Miller was one of three students from California selected to play in the National FFA Band, where he performed in Lucas Oil Stadium each day in front of an audience of 75,000 people.
And Jiashee Thao, who was one of only four other national finalists in the area of vegetable production. She got to speak about her vegetable project in front of thousands of people as part of a Student Showcase.
“This is my favorite part about my job. I mean, obviously I love teaching, but the coaching is just super rewarding to see the students find a passion. We have some students join these teams and we are like, oh, you have potential, we think you could do really well here. Then all of a sudden they’re receiving jobs in this field,” Davenport said.
“We travel so much. Sometimes it’s the students’ first time being on a plane,” she said. “So it’s just kind of a rewarding thing to provide those opportunities to some of those students who never would have had them.”