Senior is a star in FFA competitions
As the crowd of about 150 FFA students converged onto the signup field at 8 a.m., a confident figure weaves her way through the mob, leading her Vet Science team to the check in desk. Once there, she jokes around with her teammates while adjusting the uniform required neck scarf and dark blue jacket, adorned with two FFA pins.
That confidence she exuded at her competitions helped lead the team to a fifth place victory, putting the team at 24th in the state. Her extensive knowledge about 231 different breeds and parasites and a general knowledge test about veterinarian topics sets her up for success.
Born and raised in Paso Robles, senior Dakota Rodriguez considers softball and agriculture as two key components of her life.
She pitched for varsity softball for one year, while playing outfield for her other two, and pitched with the travel teams of Central Coast Xtreme Heat and SLO County Nitro.
However, senior year brought big changes for Rodriguez, as both the FFA competition season and softball games approached in the upcoming spring events. She ultimately chose to follow her passion for agriculture, soon becoming a founder of the first PRHS Vet Science Team.
“[FFA] means family to me. All of the people that are in it are just awesome people…We all have different strengths and we all feed off each other’s excitement,” Rodriguez said.
Her love for cattle started at the age of three, when her grandmother gave her her first heifer. She joined 4-H at nine years old with her heifer, before switching to FFA at high school, showing heifers all four years at Salinas Valley Fair and the Mid State Fair.
Her list of FFA awards is extensive, with degrees such as Greenhand, Chapter, and State, alongside winning first place in project competition her sophomore year, top three in junior and senior year, and beef proficiency her senior year. Her multiple competitions include recitation of the FFA Creed in her freshman year, Opening and Closing ceremonies all four years, and Vet Science her senior year.
Rodriguez is currently working on her American degree, which is only open to graduates and awarded at the National FFA Convention to “members who have
demonstrated the highest level of commitment to FFA and made significant accomplishments in their supervised agricultural experiences,” according to the National FFA Organization. She has participated in the convention once, attending this year’s sessions at Fresno.
Rodriguez spends over 1152 hours per year working at her family’s ranch with cattle throughout the school year and every day in the summer. Her normal schedule includes the grueling tasks of feeding, fixing fences and troughs, checking water levels, giving vaccinations, spraying pesticides, and making sure there are no complications during calving season.
Former PRHS agriculture teacher, Mark Clement, is a close family friend who had Rodriguez’s father as a student and encouraged her to join FFA and even taught her the FFA Creed at six years old.
“He had a big impact on my love for FFA…He’s a great family friend,” said Rodriguez, whose first agricultural teacher was Clement.
This love of FFA lead Rodriguez to apply to Cal Poly SLO, where she will attend this fall to major in Agriculture Communication, with the final goal of becoming a public relations representative focused on beef communications. Her main goal after college is to join a company that is “new and innovative that really helps the Ag culture industry.”
In this case, Imutek, a business that produces colostrum supplements for calves, is her ideal company. Colostrum supplements are given to calves when born to help boost their immune system.
Rodriguez’s hard work in FFA activities also helps her excel at school, such as her 4.15 weighted GPA. Her favorite classes are the Ag classes, particularly the ones taught by Clement and Vet Science teacher Amanda Gardner, closely followed by her junior year of English, particularly the utopia “Yeetville” project.
Rodriguez attributes her success to her Grandma, Cheryl Gay Rambo, the most important person in her life.
“She’s just always there for me…I’ve played in many softball games and she’s been to every single one,” said Rodriguez, also stating that they have both traveled together to New Mexico, Arizona, and Louisiana.
Rodriguez moved in with her Grandma at the age of four due to family issues, stating, “It’s just been an insane thing to know that it was just out of the goodness of her heart that she did that…She’s just an amazing lady and I feel that everyone should strive to be like her and I definitely try to.”
Rodriguez’s love for FFA does not go unnoticed by her closest friends.
“She’s the kind of person that can brighten your day in no time, and she’s just all around incredible…She’s got such an incredible future ahead of her, and so many amazing accomplishments already. She’s truly magnificent,” said senior Morgan Moretti, one of Rodriguez’s close friends since freshman year.
Moretti and Rodriguez, along with friend senior Eden Peterson, will all attend Cal Poly together this fall.