State FFA Commodity Tour

by Brett McRae

MT FFA Association – The National FFA Organization plays a large role in the lives of students across the State of Montana. This program first started in 1928 and has since spread across all 50 states and 5 territories. Chartered in 1930, the Montana Association has a membership of over 6250 students, in 105 chapters spread across the state. The FFA Motto is “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve” and members practice this every day. Students have boundless opportunities to learn about potential careers, serve their communities, and develop skills that will last a lifetime. One unique opportunity that took place recently was the Agriculture Commodity Tour. Students travelled almost 2000 miles, visiting Idaho, Oregon and Washington, stopping at various locations along the way. The State Officer Team as well as the Agronomy team from Kalispell “hit the road” on July 10th, led by State FFA Advisor Mr. Jim Rose, State Foundation Board Member Mark Sinnard and Kalispell FFA Advisor Mr. Justin Heupel.

The first stop on the trip was at the Port of Lewiston in Lewiston, Idaho where the group took a very interesting tour of their facilities. Members found it interesting to see where a good portion of Montana’s grain gets loaded on barges for it journey to the coast. As agriculturalists, students felt it was important to understand what happens to our Montana grain after it is harvested. The tour of the port provided a unique perspective and new respect for what goes on with this part of the transportation process.

From L to R Montana State FFA Officers – Brighton Lane, Phillip Prewett, Olivia Collins, Mackenzie Serrano, Jaylea Lunceford, Anthony Hernandez, Riley Larson, Kyelynn Coombe, and Kalispell FFA members Evan Heupel, Ethan Bay, and Delaney Modderman. 

Rose is a big advocate of the Agriculture Commodity Tour and has seen the impact it has on students. The exposure to Agriculture on an international scale is an eye-opening experience.  One such experience was visiting one of the largest grain handling facilities in Portland.  Portland is a big “player” in the international wheat industry and very few people get the privilege to get a behind the scenes look.

Another interesting stop was made at the Ocean Spray Cranberry plant near Aberdeen, Washington.  This plant produces juice but predominately produces Craisins.  At the conclusion of the plant tour, the group took the opportunity to visit the Jack Stein Cranberry Farm near Grayland.  Students learned what it takes to plant, produce, fertilize and harvest cranberries. 

Perhaps the highlight of this year’s trip was visiting Three-Mile Canyon Farms.  This 93,000- acre farm produces a variety of crops but the most notable product they produce is milk.  They milk 36,000 head of cattle twice a day which yields almost 2.5 million lbs. of milk each day.  They have 386 center pivots across the farm and irrigate almost 40,000 acres.  Also, during the five-day trip the students visited Bonneville Dam and fish hatchery, Columbia Gorge Hotel and Multnomah Falls.

This experience was generously sponsored by Columbia Grain and the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee.


MT FFA Association

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