Fresno, Ca- This year the Madera FFA chapter had two teams of students working tirelessly throughout the winter to prepare for their chosen judging teams. These teams participated in their State Finals contests at Fresno State on Saturday, February 7th.
The vine pruning team, coached by ag instructors Kristin Mckenna, John Williams and local farmer Les Loquaci, focuses on the correct pruning of both table and wine grapes. Students must be able to correctly prune a vine to industry standards in front of judges while explaining their reasoning for each cut. The team must also take a written exam focused on the growing trend of vines and the industry. This year’s team consisted of Mario Alvarez, Chris O’Haro, Nicole Ramirez, and Clayton Sheehan and was quite successful. Placing 1st at the Saint Helena contest in January, 4th in Reedley and 3rd at this year’s FFA State Finals held at Fresno State on February 7th. The team members did exceptionally well with Christopher O’Haro, only dropping 18 points the whole day, to place 1st in the state.
Madera FFA also had a fruit pruning tree team competing this year coached by ag teacher Julie Luxon. The tree pruning team must be able to correctly prune plums, canning peaches and fresh peaches to industry standards while also explaining their reasoning to do so. Just like in vine pruning the team must also take a written exam on the pruning and industry standards of fruit tree pruning. The team was made up of Mark Cavallero, Virat Hansen, Jenae Hansen and Vanessa Maravilla. After placing 2nd at the Reedley field day, the team went on a mission to prepare for state finals. Their hard work paid off and the team received 1st place at state finals, making them the 2015 State Champions in Fruit Tree Pruning. Each member individually placed in the top ten, with Vanessa Maravilla placing 8th, Mark Cavallero placing 5th, Virat Kang placing 2nd and Jenae Hansen place 1st in the state.
Both judging teams had a great season and thank everyone in the community who helped them along the way including the Loquaci family & Gerwal family for the use of their vineyards and orchards for the members to practice.