SUTHERLIN, Ore. — Cassidy Leatherwood is considering a career in international agriculture.
If it is that industry or some other that the Sutherlin High School senior eventually enters, she’ll be more than ready to advocate for it, thanks to the experience she is getting now as a student involved in parliamentary procedure through the FFA program.
Parliamentary procedure involves using Robert’s Rules of Order to run a business meeting.
Cassidy chairs her school’s advanced parliamentary procedure team. The team won its district, sectional and state competitions, all earlier this year, and is now preparing to participate at the FFA National Convention that is scheduled for Oct. 25-28 in Indianapolis, Ind. An advanced team from each of the 50 states is expected to compete at nationals.
What is unique about this year’s FFA competition for Sutherlin High is that its beginning parliamentary procedure team also prevailed in its earlier competitions to earn a trip to the national convention. And the chairperson of that beginning team is sophomore Regan Leatherwood, Cassidy’s sister.
“For both these teams to be from the same school, that hasn’t happened in Oregon in 10 years,” said Wes Crawford, the agricultural science teacher and FFA adviser at Sutherlin High. “Then for the chairperson of the teams to be sisters, that’s probably never happened.”
The Oregon state competitions were won in March when Sutherlin’s advanced team consisted of juniors and one senior and the beginner team consisted of all freshmen. The students competing on the advanced team with Cassidy at nationals will be seniors Tristan Vincent, Madelyn Higgins, Hailee Holder and Taylor Moser and Umpqua Community College freshman Esten Harrington.
Joining Regan on the beginning team are sophomores Nolan Carson, Hailey Boehm, Grace Matteo, Zach Lor, Sydnee Tilley and Hannah Jarman.
The students first learned about parliamentary procedure in their Introduction to Agriculture class at Sutherlin High.
“In agriculture, you need to know how to debate and discuss issues that concern agriculture,” Cassidy said. “Learning parliamentary procedure gives you a little bit more of a competitive edge, it helps you debate more efficiently.”
Crawford said it is important for future members of such organizations as the Farm Bureau, livestock associations and Granges to know how to conduct themselves in business meetings and discussions.
“If we want our students to be able to engage others in advocating for and defending agricultural industries, the ability to articulate a debate and the knowledge to be able to access how to get business done is invaluable,” the teacher said. “In our events, the topics students debate are often current events and issues in agriculture.
“There is no one else teaching students how to do this,” he added. “Students who leave high school knowing how to run a meeting and speak well doing it were probably enrolled in an agricultural science class.”
Cassidy said that at nationals, teams will be judged on how well they use Robert’s Rules of Order during a meeting. The advanced teams will have to demonstrate 10 different parliamentary motions and will have to debate at least 15 times during an 11-minute meeting. The advanced students will also be given a written test on the rules.
The beginning teams will have to demonstrate a few less motions and their written test won’t be as complex.
Cassidy was on the school’s beginning parliamentary team as a freshman and has been the chair of the school’s last two advanced teams.
“Winning state was three years in the making,” she said. “We put a lot of work into that state competition. I was happy with how we did, regardless of whether we had won or not. I did not expect us to win so when we did, it was very surprising.
“At nationals, I just want us to do the best we can,” she added.
Regan described the beginning team as “pretty dedicated.”
“We have a lot of skills,” she said. “I don’t know if we’ll win, but we have the potential to do well.”
In addition to the two parliamentary procedure teams, Sutherlin will have students competing at nationals in three other categories: Lee Wesenberg in prepared public speaking; Mackenzie Price in extemporaneous public speaking; and Taryn Whelchel, Kalana Granger, Raichel Wolfe and Destiny Pedersen in veterinary science.