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HRVHS senior Celilo Brun delivering her speech at a County Board of Commissioners meeting. She is looking for opportunities to practice her speech before the state convention later this month.

When Celilo Brun first joined her local 4-H club in fourth grade, she didn’t think it would have a big impact on her future.

That 4-H club led to her joining FFA in eighth grade. Since then, Brun has been showing animals and competing in various FFA Career Development Events (CDE) designed to help students develop skills that will help them in agricultural careers.

Now a senior at Hood River Valley High School, Brun is preparing for the FFA state convention, where she will compete in the Prepared Public Speaking Leadership Development Event (LDE) and run for FFA state office.

Brun plans to attend Eastern Wyoming College to study agricultural business, agricultural sciences or agricultural communications, and compete with the school’s Livestock Show Team. If elected to state office, Brun will spend the next year traveling the country as an Oregon FFA Foundation Ambassador and will attend Eastern Wyoming after her term ends.

“FFA helped me find out other aspects of myself, like public speaking, and it’s definitely a huge aspect of my life,” Brun said. “It’s helped me find my path to my future career.”

The LDE requires competitors to prepare a 6-8 minute speech on a current agricultural-related topic. Students research a topic of interest and then put together “a creative, informative speech,” that is then presented to a panel of judges, who score the student based on the speech’s content, composition and delivery.

Advocating for a local issue in her speech was important to Brun, and after researching issues in the Hood River Valley area, she decided she wanted to do something about orchardists and water, ultimately combining the two.

“It’s really fun to research a topic and dive deep into those topics,” Brun said. “It’s fun to advocate for topics you’re interested about.”

Brun competed with her speech, titled “Allowing Agriculture and Fish to Coexist in the Hood River Valley,” at Mount Hood District-level competition and placed second, advancing to the Feb. 24 sectional competition. There, she placed first, qualifying her for the FFA State Convention in Redmond later this month.

Her research involved interviewing local stakeholders throughout the region, and it’s something she’s continuing to do between stages of competition.

“It’s really cool talking to local stakeholders because you never really know until you find the deep down facts and you never really stop learning,” Brun said.

Meeting with stakeholders is one aspect of the Oregon FFA Foundation Ambassador position that interested Brun.

The election takes place during the state convention, with several rounds of interviews and eliminations at the end of each round. The finalists present a 2-3 minute speech on a topic of their choice.

Ambassadors serve as FFA’s representatives to the agriculture and business industry, attending trade shows and conferences, participating in business and industry tours, and speaking at various functions within the industry, and helping mentor FFA members.

Brun continues to mentor members of her old 4-H club and takes joy in watching them learn leadership skills and grow in confidence.

“It’s really exciting to see people that you helped mentor grow into the people they’re meant to be,” she said.

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