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Turlock Christian, Hilmar students elected as State FFA Officers
State FFA Officers
Turlock Christian High senior John Dein (pictured second from right) and Hilmar High senior Gianna Gonzalez (second from left) stand with their newly elected 2024-25 State FFA Officers team at the Leadership Conference in Sacramento on March 24 (Photo contributed).

March 24 marked the final day of the 96th State Future Farmers of America Leadership Conference at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. Appearing on stage and under the massive arena spotlight were a pair of local FFA members who were elected to the 2024-2025 State Officer team.

Turlock Christian High senior John Dein was elected as the state FFA vice president while Hilmar High senior Gianna Gonzalez was elected state FFA secretary.

State FFA Officers are elected annually by delegates from each FFA chapter in California. According to California Agricultural Education, the team’s purpose is to “inspire and lead their peers, shepherding the FFA component of the program.”

John Dein
Turlock Christian High senior John Dein was elected to serve as state vice president at the 96th State Future Farmers of America Leadership Conference last month.

“I will never forget the moment I heard my name get called on stage for the position of vice president,” recalled Dein. “As I ran up the stairs all I could think about was running into the arms of my brothers and sisters for life as we would embark on this new journey together. It was a very proud moment for my school, but it was also a very proud moment for California FFA because the heart of this team is radiant and something I’m so stoked to explore.”

Gonzalez shared similar sentiments, expressing thanks to those who helped her navigate a months-long process, which began in January.

“During the time between January and the State Conference in March, we prepared for any possible outcome. The morning of March 20, we began our first round of interviews, followed by lots of waiting. From there, advancement announcements were made to the candidates who were continuing in the process after the interview rounds. One thing that made it easier was reminding myself why I wanted to serve the members of California FFA,” she explained. “I am very grateful to all of the people in my life who have supported me throughout my FFA journey.”

“The process was emotionally and mentally draining as 60 candidates were boiled down to six in just a short week,” added Dein. “It consisted of nine intense interview rounds and an election brought forth by 700 delegates. Every time my name was called into the Nominating Committee Room for the rounds, it always looked different whether that was giving speeches, having conversations with legislators, testing team dynamics, and even answering vulnerable questions.”

Gianna Gonzalez
Hilmar High senior Gianna Gonzalez was elected to serve as state secretary at the 96th State Future Farmers of America Leadership Conference last month.

Gonzalez explained that one of her favorite parts about being involved in the FFA and the agriculture industry is the ability to communicate with peers across the state through a shared love for agriculture. It was the main reason why she chose to pursue a state officer position.

“One thing that led me to pursuing this position of leadership was the connections that I made with other members throughout my four years of service in high school,” she said. “Networking with members at conferences or competitions allowed us to exchange unique stories about our experiences in agriculture. These stories showed me that you don’t need a background in agriculture to find your place in this organization. 

“I chose to run for this position because I wanted to show other members that same thing; you don’t need to be a farmer to find your home in the FFA. I hope to leave an impact on the members of California FFA and encourage them to pursue a future in advocating for this industry.”

As for Dein, whose passion for agriculture stems from his long family history of working in the citrus industry, he admitted to being hesitant about trying his hand at applying to be a state officer.

“Running for the position of State Office has always been a ‘hard no’ my entire high school career. But it wasn’t until the applications came out that I spent time in deep reflection understanding who I was beneath the surface and the impact that I wanted to have onto others,” he said. “Knowing that this next year I could have the possibility of placing bricks in student’s foundations as they enter a program dedicated to premiere self growth is something that I could not pass up no matter how intense the process would be. There is nothing I love more than making people laugh, engaging in intentional conversations, and exiling people from their comfort zones.”

Dein also credited his faith for helping him push through and succeed in the application process.

“My relationship with Jesus Christ became stronger than ever as I had to put every ounce of trust into His plan for me. When I had to answer questions on the spot in front of the 8,000 attendees, I truly do believe that I wasn’t speaking, but it was the Lord who was speaking through me,” he explained. “I have never felt so much peace, humility and honor in my entire life. It’s time that I return the favor to those who saw something in me. I am so prepared to push each and every member within California FFA to strive in expressing their true gifts and characteristics that they’ve been blessed with. It’s time that I return the favor to those who saw something in me.”

As the two referred to, there are over 103,000 FFA members in the state of California. When they officially assume officer duties in the coming weeks, the team will set intentions and create programming with the desire to move the association forward and serve the needs of their peers as well as the agriculture industry.

The full 2024-2025 State FFA Officer Team is:

·         President: Camille Zavala, Kingsburg FFA

·         Vice President: John Dein, Turlock Christian FFA

·         Secretary: Gianna Gonzalez, Hilmar FFA

·         Treasurer: Melissa Lua-Duarte, Santa Maria FFA

·         Reporter: Carlos Nunez, Santa Maria FFA

·         Sentinel: Joshua Wolford, O'Neals Minarets

“I am so passionate and excited to bring this forth to the 103,000 California FFA members in my year of service,” Dein said.

“Thank you to each and every person who has dedicated time to helping me through all of my endeavors,” Gonzalez added. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve the 103,000 members of California FFA and I wouldn’t be here without my supporters.”