State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo announced that 68 Oregon students received national awards at the National Future Farmers of America Convention held in Louisville, Ky., recently. The convention is a place to demonstrate skills, develop leadership opportunities, and learn about national agricultural and education issues. FFA is a youth organization, preparing students for leadership, personal growth, and career success.

Marika Cowen of Astoria won a national ranking gold award in Career Development or Agricultural Proficiency Events for a dairy cattle handler's activity.

Astorian TRINNA TOLLEFSON will be spending a week in sunny Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, thanks to her ticket being drawn as the winner of the Astoria High School Marching Band's vacation raffle.

Band director TRACY HAFER drew Tollefson's ticket out of a decommissioned snare drum at this week's band rehearsal. Tollefson's goddaughter, drum major MELISSA GROTHE, sold her the ticket and called her with the happy news.

"I just thought, 'This is so cool!'" said Tollefson, who purchased two tickets from Grothe. She didn't have her checkbook with her at the time, so she had to ask her husband, AL TOLLEFSON, to pay. "I guess I know who I'm taking with me now," she admitted.

The band netted around $2,000 from the raffle, which will help with expenses for its trip to San Francisco the week after Christmas to perform with other high school and college bands in the half-time show of the Emerald Bowl.

Seaview, Wash., resident Lynne Roy's favorite "postcards" of recent travels to Lima, Peru, are not of mystical Machu Pichu or the Pacific coastline, but rather the sweet smiles and bright eyes of children at the largest orphanage in South America. Roy, above with children, and 19 others spent two weeks in October volunteering on childcare and construction projects at a children's home housing 600 vulnerable youths. Located along the oceanfront in Lima, this former government compound is home for hundreds of youths who have been abused, neglected or orphaned.

The program was coordinated by Global Volunteers, a nonprofit organization that offers short-term volunteer programs in 20 countries around the world.

"I worked with the laborers during the morning and with teenage boys in the afternoon. We enjoyed exchanges about the job, what we were doing and safety issues," said Roy.

At the invitation of local host organizations, Global Volunteers sends teams of volunteers to sites worldwide to work on projects ranging from teaching English to assisting with healthcare to construction community buildings.For information, log on to (www.globalvolunteers.org)

The Neah-Kah-Nie Speech Team was one of the top point collectors at the Nov. 13 Woodburn High School Speech Tournament, although no sweepstakes prize was awarded. Twenty-six Pirates competed, making the NKN entry the biggest among the 18 3A and 4A schools at the tournament.

Individual winners took home three first-place trophies, three second place, four thirds and two fourths in Poetry Reading, Extemporaneous Speaking, Prose Reading, Radio Commentary, After-Dinner Speaking and Oratory.

"The success of the team is in large part due to the many volunteers who helped on Saturday," said coach Holly Lorincz, "including alumni Keara Gann, Kirsten Aagesen, Cory Parker and Vince Peterson."

The team will be competing next at Clackamas High School Dec. 3. Contact Lorincz or Laurie Allen at the high school if you are willing to volunteer as a judge.

The Naselle-Grays River Valley School District board of directors has been named one of the the state's three 2004 Boards of the Year by the Washington State School Directors' Association.

Board members Bill Coop, Deanna Gjovic, Gilbert Haataia, Steve Sultemeier and Arne Wirkkala were honored during the association's annual conference in Spokane, Wash., the Chinook Observer reports. The awards are presented to one each from a small, medium and large school district; Naselle was honored as the top district of 1,000 or fewer students.

Superintendent Gerald Schmidtke received a plaque, as well as a check for $500 on behalf of the district.

Award contenders submitted essays describing what the school board has done to improve student achievement.

The Naselle-Grays River Valley School District is composed of about 300 students. Judges noted that with a depressed local economy, the school faces many challenges that larger schools do not. "Despite these challenges, the school has one of the top educational programs in the area. This is evident by observing their newly remodeled K-12 facility, the diverse offerings of both academic and vocational courses, the student WASL and ITBS scores, their talented staff, and their dedicated school board of directors," judges said.

U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, who represents Pacific County, was unanimously selected by his fellow Western Democrats to serve on the Congressional Democratic Steering Committee. He will represent the interests of members from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Washington as members give input into committee assignments for the upcoming 109th Congress.

Baird promises to make certain that the Northwest is represented on committees integral to the region's interests.

Previous regional representatives include Reps. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Darlene Hooley, D-Ore.

Do you have items for In One Ear? Send them to Patrick Webb, Managing Editor, The Daily Astorian, P.O. Box 210, Astoria OR 97103 or by e-mail to pwebb@dailyastorian.com

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