By GLENN KAHL
Ripon High junior Alyssa Donich received the California Central Region Proficiency Award during ceremonies in the Atherton Theater of Delta College in Stockton
She also was awarded the honor of State Farmer along with four of her Ripon FFA peers. Donich will now advance to competition in Anaheim for a national proficiency honor on March 27.
Those also receiving the State Farmer Award were Nick Ioppini, Haley Estaban, Kaitlyn Avila and Thomas Campbell.
Donich has worked for the Triangle Farms in his hog operation for the past six years. She has been working with a herd of 26 sows used to produce and market seed stock.
“When I was a 4-H member our project leader was Mr. Dave Luis – one of three owners of Triangle L Farms – my passion and love for the industry was fostered through his mentorship and provided me the opportunity to work in the swine production industry,” Donich said.
Starting at Triangle Farms she said she first learned the basics of cleaning the pens and feeding the animals. Then, in her freshman year in high school she learned how to detect the heat in the gilts/sows and was taught that the timing of when to artificially inseminate actually impacted the rate of conception. In 2017 she bred three females with two being successful and the next year in 2018 she bred 10 females and eight developed into pregnancies.
“I was able to call breeders and visit stud sites in California and in the Midwest to establish my pairing choices,” she explained. “In 2018 I selected the semen to be used on gilts and sows under my care. Farrowing out hogs is now the highlight of my job. In the beginning I watched and assisted when needed but now I can do it on my own, insuring that the piglets are cleaned off, nursing and under the heat lamp. The single greatest challenge I faced was the farrowing out of the gilts. They will tend to have a more difficult time and there is no birthing history to refer to.”
Donich said working with the Luis family in their hog operation has helped her with her self-confidence.
“At first I was quiet and didn’t say much,” she recalled. “I would work and listen as the owners discussed their daily operations, gaining knowledge and understanding how the business worked. As I entered my freshman year, it was my time to take a more active role communicating with breeders and clients. Dave and Josh Luis were instrumental in helping me now what to ask and how to get the answers I needed learning to be professional and communicate effectively.”
Donich hopes to become a high school Ag teacher where she can share her experiences and instruct others about agriculture and its impact on the world.
“Dave Luis took me under his wing and not only taught me the show pig industry, but a lot of life lessons on how to respect and treat others,” Donich said. “ Dave’s passing only intensified my desire to be the best person I can be and I know that each and every day he is with me and is still guiding me as I venture forward. I want to give back and have an impact on a child’s life like he has had on mine.”
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.