High school student Gillian Villa has made history as the first from Pioneer Valley to be elected as president of the FFA South Coast Region, representing 38 schools across eight counties in California.
Fellow Panther Elizabeth Beebe was elected as regional vice president and will serve alongside Villa as a representative from the Santa Barbara section, according to Santa Maria Joint Union High School District spokesman Kenny Klein.
The South Coast Region stretches from San Jose to Los Angeles.
The two students were selected through an extensive interview process, ending with a videotaped speech that was reviewed by delegates from all 39 schools in the region prior to a final vote.
“The whole process was one of the most stressful, rewarding and most fun experiences that I have gone through," Villa said. "Seeing my name being announced as the 2021-22 South Coast regional president left me speechless while my mother embraced me in a hug."
Looking ahead, school officials are hoping Villa and Beebe will get to attend a regional officer leadership conference in northern California in July, if COVID-19 permits, along with the opportunity to host a chapter officer leadership conference in October.
“We are all so proud of these two young ladies. They have worked extremely hard and we can’t wait to see what else they accomplish in the upcoming year. They are both already leaders in our chapter, and now they will get to expand their skills and grow even more as leaders," Pioneer Valley agricultural adviser Natalie Baldwin said.