All smiles at the March 7 Lone Pine FFA fundraiser are students (l-r) Cassidy Lane, Cassandra Carlson, Genesee Lucia, Kyler Francone, PJ Zrelak, Ryan Cappello, Katelyn Button, Abby Southey, Jacob Waldt, Prestin Huerta, Katie Lacey, instructor Brenda Lacey and student Bryce Benites. Photo by Charles James
The Lone Pine FFA Blue and Gold Grapes & Grains Western Mixer fundraiser, held at the Lone Pine Film History Museum on Friday, March 7, was a tremendous success, raising close to $20,000 in support of the agriculture students in the Future Farmers of America Program at Lone Pine High School.
The film museumâs director, Bob Sigman, and the museumâs Board of Directors have been very supportive of the FFA over the past few years by allowing them to use the museum as the venue for this very popular annual event.
FFA Instructor Brenda Lacey offered special thanks to Sean Turner of the Mammoth Brewery Company, Rick Lovett of the Indian Wells Brewing Company in Inyokern, and J Duci Winery in Paso Robles for providing all of the wine and beer products for the mixer. The food was donated and prepared by Billy and Sue Ruiz of Cowboy Flavor Catering of Santa Ynez. Entertainment was provided by the popular local band Sandy and The High Country.
Lone Pine High School has one of the most successful FFA programs in the state with a large percentage of its student population participating. According to the community, that is mostly thanks to the popularity of its FFA instructor. Lacey is married to rancher Mark Lacey, a fourth-generation Inyo County resident. Itâs been noted that she understands the ins and outs of the agricultural business and her experience simply makes her one very credible, if not incredible, agricultural instructor. The FFA program is also popular with many parents in the town. Attending the mixer were Robyn and Jerry Ross of Lone Pine. Their two sons, JB and Carl, are members of the local 4-H Club. One boy is raising a rabbit and the other a goat. The 4-H program uses the high schoolâs FFA farm to raise their animals and learn how to plant food. Eventually, as they get older, the 4-H members will join the high schoolâs FFA program.
The Rosses are enthusiastic supporters of the FFA, saying, âThe farm is looking great and the FFA is wonderfully supportive of 4-H youth. Our boys have the FFA to look forward to in their future as they get older.â
Lone Pine resident and CHP Sergeant Joe Francone said that FFA was a very important part of his growing up, noting, âMany kids are not going to college, but through FFA they can learn skills that they can use the rest of their lives in other occupations.â He continued, âI am still using skills learned in my four years in FFA such as welding, plumbing, electrical and raising livestock.â
Like many local families, the Franconesâ participation in FFA runs deep.
âOur children, from our son Kyler to our daughters Kady and Kelsey, have all been a part of the FFA program here in Lone Pine. We have horses and other animals that everyone in my family, including my wife Darcy, all know how to take care of and itâs been a wonderful experience as a family,â Francone said. âFFA is just an outstanding program for both kids and their families.â
According to Lacey, the fundraising efforts this year will go to the purchase of a new livestock trailer and completion of the sheep and goat unit.
Lacey wanted to make a special acknowledgement of thanks to all the parents and community members who donated to the silent auction. Many have continued to support the program for many years through the silent auction and by renewing their Lone Pine FFA Booster Club membership, she explained.
For more information on the program, visit the programâs website, âWe are Lone Pine FFAâ at https://lphs-lpusd-ca.schoolloop.com/lpFFA.