They came; they competed. They learned, cheered, won and lost, and Monday, the 2012 Oregon FFA State Convention came to a close.

The 82nd annual convention brought more than 2,500 people to Hermiston last weekend, filling local hotels, restaurants and Hermiston High School.

As the closing session marked the final event of the convention, Hermiston FFA Advisors Sam Herringshaw and Leah Smith reflected on four days of blue and gold.

“It went really well, very smooth,” Herringshaw said Monday. “Anytime you have something this big, you put a lot of pressure on yourselves. You want it to go well. We didn’t want to disappoint anyone. We wanted to showcase Hermiston for what Hermiston is. I think we did.”

But it wasn’t without effort.

Hermiston High School and school district staff worked all last week to prepare the building for the convention. Sponsors donated farm equipment for display inside and outside the facility, and teachers gave up classrooms for FFA events. Custodians worked constantly during the convention keeping the school as clean as possible. Students and parents helped set up and take down displays, chairs, stages and a career fair.

“I think it turned out pretty much exactly how we envisioned and dreamed it to be, and that’s a credit to the community, to the school district staff, maintenance workers, the custodians, the FFA alumni and everyone who was a part of it,” Herringshaw said. “We didn’t ask our students to give up their convention to play host, but they did. They worked their tails off, and that’s why it went so well.”

Over four days, the convention included numerous competitions, ceremonies and contests. Students could participate in workshops, such as custom ag solutions and metal sculptures, or take advantage of a dance or a hypnotist show.

“I think the best thing is that people have enjoyed it,” Smith said. “We were lucky to have such good community and FFA alumni involvement. There were so many activities to keep the kids busy that it was non-stop excitement. Not a lot of downtime is better for the kids, and better for the advisors.”

In the competitions, many Hermiston students and teams placed in the top eight in the state, but the advisors said the most impressive aspect is the number of students who participated.

“To compete at state is an honor in itself,” Smith said. “We wish we could win and do better, but we’re continually going toe-to-toe with the biggest schools in the state. These students are leaving a legacy for more students to be involved.”

Herringshaw and Smith sent a special thank-you to their spouses for the time dedicated, as well as to Desi Matthews, lead custodian at Hermiston High School and Athletic Director Mike Kay for their work in making sure everything ran smoothly. District Superintendent Wade Smith and Intermountain ESD Superintendent Mark Mulvihill each addressed the convention during a large-group session.

“This is a case where a whole community, a school district, an alumni organization and all entities came together,” Herringshaw said. “I think this has been as good or better than any of us dreamed it could be.”

Next year’s FFA State Convention will take place at Oregon State University.


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