Ella Griner, a 2019 graduate of Pierce County High School, won the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Proficiency Finalist Award in the area of Forest Management and Products.
“It is...an honor to be named national champion in the area of Forest Management and Products. This is a goal toward which I have worked my entire life. However, I would be remiss if I thought that this award was just about me and my SAE Project. The impact of this award goes much further than that. This award is for each and every Pierce County educator that has had a hand in making me who I am today. This award is about every farmer and agriculturist in Pierce County who have encouraged me along the way. This award is about every FFA member, past, present, and future who inspires me to continue working diligently. This award may be the pinnacle of my FFA career, but it is the beginning of a new era in the future of agriculture and FFA in Pierce County,” said Griner.
Griner is one of only four students from across the nation chosen to compete with their home projects at the national finals. Her award marks the first time a local FFA student has been recognized nationally in over 20 years. The award was given during a virtual gathering of the 93rd National FFA Convention last week.
Griner served as president of Pierce County’s FFA chapter. A resident of Patterson, she is the daughter of Chip and Julie Griner. She is a freshman at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton.
Agricultural Proficiency Awards honor FFA members who, through supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs), have developed specialized skills they can apply toward their future careers. Students compete in areas ranging from agricultural communications to wildlife management. Proficiency awards are also recognized at local and state levels and provide recognition to members exploring and becoming established in agricultural career pathways.
Griner received the Forest Management and Products Entrepreneurship/Placement Proficiency Award.
She began her supervised agricultural experience in the ninth grade and has built upon it throughout her high school career. Her proficiency application won at the region level and was awarded second place at the state level last year. This year, however, her proficiency application won at the region level and placed first in the state competition. She received notification several weeks ago that she was one of the top ten finalists in the nation, and then she was selected as one of the four national finalists. As a national finalist, Griner had to make a video summarizing her project and submit it for judging. Griner works with her family’s agribusiness, Diamond G Forest Products, harvesting raw pine gum from slash pine trees using the bore-hole method. This process involves drilling holes at each tree’s base, spraying the hole with stimulant and an insecticide, inserting a PVC pipe, and attaching a plastic bag to the pipe. The operation will drill approximately 80,000 trees each summer, typically harvesting about 150,000 pounds of oleoresin each year. The product will be distilled into turpentine and pine gum rosin. Griner is supported by her parents, Julie and Chip and her FFA advisors, Seth Prescott and John Ratliff. John Deere sponsors this proficiency.
The awards ceremony was aired on RFD-TV, the Cowboy Channel and streamed live on FFA.org.
The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 760,000 student members as part of 8,700 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.