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Local FFA members honored during national convention
FFA Carder 1
Tom and Michelle Bettencourt stand with Kenneth Carder and his American FFA Degree at the 89th National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis last week. - photo by Photo Contributed

Denair High School graduate Kenneth Carder definitely made an impression during the 89th National Future Farmers of America Convention & Expo in Indianapolis last week when he was awarded the American FFA Degree — the organization’s highest honor and an accomplishment not seen at DHS in six years.


“This means a lot because it’s something I’ve been working on for a long time,” said Carder.


The American FFA Degree is awarded at the national convention each year to members who have “demonstrated the highest level of commitment to FFA and made significant accomplishments in their supervised agricultural experiences,” or SAEs. Less than 1 percent of FFA members earn this prestigious award each year.


Carder, who graduated from DHS in 2015, said that he was motivated by a friendly family competition between him and his mother to earn the American FFA degree.


“The highest my mom was able to get in FFA was a State Degree, so going into FFA, I told her this was something I was going to beat her in,” laughed Carder.


Carder currently attends Modesto Junior College and works at Taylor ER Veterinary Emergency Hospital. Now that he has earned the highest FFA degree, he plans to become part of the National FFA Alumni Association.


“I want to be an alumni so I can continue helping out FFA in any way I can,” said Carder.


Carder was not the only local FFA member to receive the American FFA Degree last week as seven students from Turlock High School were also recognized, including Michael Neves, Matthew Oliveira, Mary Frost, Austin Silva, Gabriella Borges, Dominic Vieira and Makenzie Neves.


According to THS FFA Advisor Randee Prada-Vitorino, a total of 28 students from THS attended the national convention, two of which went as delegates as well.


Daniel Peden was one THS student who attended the convention in Indianapolis, where he placed fifth in the National Agriscience Fair Power, Structural and Technical Systems Division II.

“I was testing the strength of wells to see if quenching wells affects their strength,” said Peden.


For the fair, Peden had to conduct a scientific research project pertaining to the agriculture and food science industries. He first had to submit a full written report and application in July and he was later selected as one of the top 15 in the division. During the convention, he had to present his findings to a panel of judges.


“My favorite part of the entire convention was competing in agriscience,” said Peden. “It was fun to see everybody else’s projects and get ideas for this upcoming year.”