A pair of Oakdale High School students are going on to represent the Cowboy Capital at a higher level within the agricultural community.
Local Future Farmers of America members, OHS juniors Tatyn Silva and Caleb Bairos, were recently elected by their peers as Regional FFA Officers.
It is a responsibility that will find them serving over 23,000 FFA members from the Sacramento to Merced areas.
“It’s been six years, since Oakdale last had a regional officer,” Caleb said. “I think that with our involvement in the community we have a huge support and we’re very grateful for that.”
Raised in an agricultural family, at the encouragement of his older brother, Caleb first became involved with FFA his freshman year at OHS. He will now serve as the Central Region Vice President, South Position.
“I found a home,” he said of joining FFA. “I really enjoy doing what I do, whether it be showing, doing a speaking contest or learning more about the opportunities that this organization has.”
Tatyn also began her involvement with FFA her freshman year, when an advisor recommended she try her hand at a speaking competition.
“My favorite thing about Oakdale FFA is the support system,” Tatyn said.
She was elected to the Central Region Secretary position.
“Without the support system of the members and the advisors we wouldn’t be here today,” she added.
Caleb echoed his classmates’ sentiments stating, “We wouldn’t be where we are today without our Ag teachers.”
It is a statement which holds truth by way of classroom success, as well as their recent election achievement. In early January both students submitted their applications and were chosen as two of the 44 invited to participate in the interview process. That number is then reduced to 16 students, two for each elected position.
“It took a lot of work,” Tatyn said of preparing for Regional Officer elections. “A lot of time was put into this. We were basically living in the Ag Department the past two weeks.”
The elected officers shared over a span of roughly two weeks, they spent time reviewing previous year video to prepare for questions, as well as practicing their speeches. Speeches could not exceed two minutes in length.
“That was followed up by an impromptu question and you don’t know what the question can be,” Caleb shared. “It can be anything relating to leadership, California Agriculture or the history of the FFA itself.”
The elections were hosted at Cosumnes River College, where a total of 150 of their peers voted on the spot. It’s estimated that close to 300 students from throughout the Valley region attended. According to FFA Advisor, Grace Tobias, the process is very cut and dry, leading with the Presidential candidates and working through the seven remaining positions. Candidates give their speeches, field their question and then votes are cast by the 150 audience members, before the next set of candidates speak.
“It was really difficult and nerve-wracking,” Tatyn said of the process and addressing a group of peers versus the FFA norm of a panel of adults. She said that, as the secretary candidate, her speech followed lunch. Eating was not something she could stomach that day, however.
“The impromptu question was a little rough, I’m not going to lie,” she said. “I nailed it in the first couple of sentences then after that it was hard for me to gather more information from my brain to put it into words and explain it. But I think I did pretty well compared to the other candidates.”
“They’re both very humble,” their advisor said. “They nailed their questions. They nailed their speeches. I had other advisors coming up to me saying your kids did awesome.”
The two have officially been installed.
“They will be the regional representatives in April, so they’ll be sitting on the delegate floor and they’ll be representing our region (in Anaheim),” Tobias added.
Both students shared, that prior to submitting their applications, they discussed the commitment over with their parents, recognizing the time and dedication it would take to fulfill such an obligation.
“It’s been a goal of mine since I was a freshman, to get more involved and take all the opportunities I had and turn them into beneficial things for myself and my peers,” Caleb said.
“We as FFA members, a lot of people think all we do is Ag, but you know we are both very involved with other things,” he continued. “There’s a lot more to it, than just our Ag side. So to be able to properly manage your time and all the things you’re doing with your different organizations, that’s a big factor.”
“Dancing and cheerleading, typically don’t mix with agriculture,” Tatyn said of her additional activities. “A lot of people saw my poster board at the Meet and Greet and came up to me saying, oh you’re a cheerleader, me too. It’s awesome because I’m able to touch on those people within the Central Region that feel that they can’t be a part of agriculture because of their backgrounds and because of what they do.”
“I feel that on the Central Region Officer team we’ll be representing not only Oakdale or the Stanislaus/Tuolumne section but the central region,” Caleb said of their coming opportunity. “To be able to be those people that are going to be representing all of our constituents to be proper, to be well mannered, to have knowledge and to be a good leader.”