Making a second appearance at the national Agriscience Fair will be seniors Briana Affonso, left, and Alyssa Oman.

Making a second appearance at the national Agriscience Fair will be seniors Briana Affonso, left, and Alyssa Oman.

Sumner FFA again sending big crew to nationals

Research topics range from freezing seeds to the effect of population river water quality and how tire particles affect the environment.

Once again, an impressive group of Sumner High students are making plans for Indiana, having qualified for next month’s national FFA Agriscience Fair.

The Sumner High chapter is no stranger on the national scene, according to adviser Jessica Olaiya. She is in her sixth year with the program and has accompanied at least 10 students to nationals each year. Sumner is the best-represented chapter in the state, she believes, when it comes to qualifying students for national competition.

The Sumner contingent – including students, parent chaperones, Olaiya and fellow FFA adviser Maria Montoya – will depart Oct. 22 and return home Oct. 27. There will be nine current SHS students, along with a pair of 2018 graduates, heading to FFA national headquarters in Indianapolis.

The 10 in the Agriscience Fair started their journey by placing first at the state-level Ag Fair, Olaiya explained. The next step was to send written reports of research they completed; those were judged recently in Indianapolis by industry leaders. The top 12 entrants in the nation, in each division, were declared national finalists and earned a trip to Indianapolis.

The SHS students headed to the national convention (and their research topics) are: Layne Barton, freezing seeds; Seniah Flesher, where does your food come from?; Briana Affonso and Alyssa Oman, the public’s perception of animal activist groups; Hannah Giddings and Kennedy Spietz, the effect of population size on river water quality; Nazaaha Penick and Sierra Blair, climate change awareness; and Adeline Rang and Kalista Wales, the effect of tire particles on Ceriodaphnia Dubia.

Giddings graduated in June and plans on attending the University of Puget Sound in the spring to begin studies in environmental science.

Another Sumner High graduate making the trip is Isabella Vacca, who was named a national finalist for her Proficiency Award in Agriscience Research.

Now a student at Washington State University, Vacca earned the Indiana berth because she began the competition while still at Sumner High.

She completed an application that spans 30-plus pages and outlines her agriscience research projects over the past four years, describes the skills she has developed, knowledge she has gained and accomplishments.

She is one of just four students from the U.S. to be named a national finalist. She will be awarded $500 from National FFA and attend nationals to complete an intensive interview process as the final portion of the competition. She will find out – live on stage – if she is selected as the national winner.

Vacca was an active member of Sumner High’s FFA chapter who competed at nationals three times with agriscience projects and spent a year as the chapter president. She is now studying environmental science at WSU.

To help send chapter representatives to national competition, the Sumner FFA is hosting its annual fundraising dinner and auction. This year the dinner will be catered by Branks BBQ and tickets are $15. The event begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, in the Sumner High School gymnasium. All who want to support the Sumner FFA chapter are welcome to attend. Additional information about auction items can be found at:

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Seniah Flesher, a Sumner High sophomore, has qualified for the FFA Agriscience Fair and will be making her first trip to nationals.

Seniah Flesher, a Sumner High sophomore, has qualified for the FFA Agriscience Fair and will be making her first trip to nationals.

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