by: KAREN LANG - Members of the Gervais FFA and its Alumni gather for a group shot at last years banquet.The way Brent LaFollette sees it, the more opportunities the Gervais School District can provide its outgoing students, the better they’ll be equipped to find steady careers after moving on from high school and college.

While that is a simple concept, it takes a great deal of support from the community, the school and local businesses to provide students at Gervais High School with the necessary tools to building a better future for them. LaFollette hopes to continue building that support this Saturday at the second annual Gervais FFA Alumni Banquet.

“This banquet came about when we realized that a lot of our high school students are graduating without a lot of direction, either for further education or a career,” said LaFollette, Gervais School Board chairman and president of the Gervais FFA Alumni.

LaFollette, along with the local FFA Alumni chapter and the high school’s agriculture and tech instructors – Karie Hoffman and Lindsay McCargar – wants to continue building upon the high school’s popular Career Technical Education (CTE) program.

The Gervais community has deep roots in agriculture, and the FFA Alumni and CTE instructors want to provide graduating students with the opportunity to work in a variety of fields when they graduate.

“We started recognizing that the one thing we could really do to help our students would be to help get them some direction so they can make an educated decision when they graduate about what career opportunities are out there,” said LaFollette.

Part of that education involves partnering with local businesses, both within the community and across the state. The keynote speaker at Saturday’s banquet is Doug Hoffman, CEO of Wilco, the Willamette Valley-based farm and agriculture co-op.

“We’ve invited a lot of businesses and industry in hopes that they will partner with us more down the road, whether that’s financially or providing partnerships,” said Karie Hoffman.

While last year’s introductory banquet was about presenting the school’s FFA program to local businesses and explaining the FFA Alumni’s short- and long-term goals, the second banquet will turn its attention to businesses that would be potential employers for Gervais students after graduating high school, college or vocational schools.

by: KAREN LANG - Gervais FFA member Tiana Jaramillo help serve dinner to guests at last years FFA banquet. Along with helping with the presentations, the Gervais FFA members assist in serving and setting up the event. “Last year was more of a focus on the presenters, and this year we’re doing more business and industry,” said Hoffman, the FFA chapter adviser. “We want to have some larger business that we hopefully are going to incorporate into our curriculum somehow, whether it’s doing partnerships or internships.”

The goal is to provide students with a larger variety of opportunities, said LaFollette. Whether a student wants to begin a career immediately after high school or go on to a two- or four-year program, the Gervais FFA Alumni wants to pave a smooth path toward career opportunities in the fields of tech and agriculture.

“We have been talking with (local businesses) about trying to come together and figure out what kind of program we can put together that will expose our kids to the career options and what we can do within our program to help prepare them for that,” said LaFollette.

The banquet will be hosted at the Antique Powerland Museum in Brooks and starts at 4:30 p.m. After a 90-minute social period, the program will be presented during the dinner hour.

“It’s just a matter of exposing (students) to the opportunities and then lining them up with the educational opportunities, whether we can accomplish that during high school or whether they go on to specific training or further education afterward,” said LaFollette.

Tickets cost $50 and include dinner provided by McKillips Catering. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by contacting any Gervais FFA Alumni officer. For more information, go to

“We’ve got a lot of things in the works and I feel that we’ve made quite a bit of progress this year,” said LaFollette. “I think we’ve really got some good things to come as we move forward with this.”

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