SOMERSET-—The Somerset County Technology Center FFA Chapter handed its Honorary Farmer Degree to Michele Fochtman, learning facilitator at the Tech Center, Tuesday during its 40th annual Parent Member FFA Banquet at the school cafeteria.
"The honorary farmer is presented to someone who has helped or supported the FFA above and beyond," said Rob Harrold, who serves as the forestry instructor and FFA adviser. "The reason the SCTC members chose Mrs. Fochtman for the Honorary Farmer is because she has volunteered her time to help the chapter."
Fochtman was chaperone on a trip to Indianapolis, Ind., in October to support the national forestry team (from Tech Center) at the National FFA Convention and she has also volunteered her time to referee the county volleyball tournament, and has made contributions to support fundraisers that the chapter has held.
She is a 1991 graduate of Meyersdale Area High School and was an FFA Sweetheart in high school. She received her master's degree in school counseling from Frostburg (Md.) State University and has served as a learning facilitator and special education coordinator at the Tech Center for the past two years.
"It is a very high honor and extremely unexpected," said Fochtman afterwards, who began helping FFA students by first refereeing a volleyball game because of having a PIAA referee license.
"As the portfolio teacher at the Technology Center, I learn students' future goals and all of these students have bright futures," she said. "The work they do and the skills they develop in this organization (FFA) will definitely help them accomplish their goals. I thank them and will forever cherish this award."
Jenna Moser of Philadelphia who is serving as the FFA State Reporter served as the evening's guest speaker. Moser is the daughter of Scott and Barbara (Knotts) Moser, both graduates of Meyersdale Area High School.
Moser described a 2010 two-month ag internship to India where she met farmers of all kinds — even banana, jasmine and caterpillar farmers. She learned through that experience that the world is bigger than Pennsylvania.
"I challenge you to use the skills you learned in FFA to make the world a better place," she said. "You don't have to be regular when you have the opportunity to be extraordinary and you already are."
The awards were as follows:
Citrus Fruit Sale: Top Salesperson — Kellie Kinsinger, first place; LJ Bowers, second place; and Blaze Bowers, third place.
Public Speaking Contest: Junior Prepared — Cody Lenart, third place; Senior Prepared — Mitch Hoffman, second place; Will Swope, seventh place.
Chapter Procedure: 4th place team (team members): Ryan Horner, president; LJ Bowers, vice president; Blaze Bowers, secretary; Kellie Kinsinger, treasurer; Jeremy Putnam, sentinel; Mark Shumaker, reporter.
Chapter Awards (scholarship): Mitch Hoffman and Ryan Horner.
Attendance Award went to Cody Lenart.
LJ Bowers — first place for tractor driving.
Volleyball recognitions went to Will Swope and Cody Lenart.
Basketball recognitions went to Kellie Kinsinger and Will Swope.
County Awards: County CDE first-place winner Jeff Vasos in wildlife; and tied for first place in forestry — Ryan Horner and Mitch Hoffman.