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Dirt collects under her fingernails, boots covered in mud, and the smell of animal feces overwhelm her senses. Though the aroma is strong, it feels like home. After putting the dry yellow hay in the feeder, she reaches to place her hand out on the black coarse hair. The Heifer moves her head up slightly and fills her mouth with hay. Munch, munch as the cow takes another mouth full. The girl smiles and savors the moment before turning around and grabbing a rake to begin cleaning up the neighboring stall. 

This is the daily routine rehearsed every morning before school at 7:30 a.m. by the President of Future Farmers of America (FFA), Kelli Hopkins. Hopkins has been the President of over 300 FFA members for two years and is a strong leader beloved by all who know her. 

“Kelli is a remarkable young leader on campus. She is compassionate, understanding, engaging and very approachable by all members of our FFA Chapter,”

said one of the three FFA Advisors, Justin Pickard
Justin Pickard

Hopkins has been a member of FFA since her freshman year, and has been an officer on the FFA team for 3 years (secretary her sophomore year, and president her junior and senior year). Her role as president includes delegating tasks to her other officers, planning FFA meetings and events, and leading the hundreds of FFA members at PRHS to becoming successful in agricultural practices as well as committed and engaged members in our community. 

Vice President of FFA, Alejandra Flores said, “the reason why Kelli is a great president and a leader is because she sees what everybody needs and she tries to work in between everybody’s schedules,” since many of the officers have other activities and commitments outside of FFA such as jobs or sports. 

Alejandra Flores

“She tries to keep everything on track and comes up with new ideas and she loves brainstorming with the officers to see our ideas,” Flores said. Flores has been in FFA for 3 years, and has known Hopkins for 2 years. 

As a member of FFA, Hopkins is required to complete a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) project every year, and can gain recognition based on the level of dedication and hours spent on the project. 

“Anything from learning how to grow a garden to showing a heifer at the fair, even a job that’s ag related, could be a research project,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins has been awarded the greatest state honor for FFA called the State Degree. The State FFA Degree is awarded to FFA members who have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to the California State FFA Association and made significant accomplishments in their SAEs. In order to receive a state degree, candidates must keep a detailed record book of their project, make at least $1000 on their project and have 500 hours minimum invested in their project along with several other criterias that must be met. … Approximately 1,800 State FFA Degrees are handed out each year. That number represents approximately 3% of the California FFA association membership. In addition to their degree, each recipient receives a gold State FFA Degree charm (as seen in the picture of Hopkins). 

Hopkin’s heifer Blue

This year she decided to raise a Heifer (named Blue) under the surveillance and guidance of Pickard (one of the 3 Advisors for FFA–who is in charge of facilitating meetings and organizing FFA events, as well as the beef and goat category of livestock raising). This is her first year with one of the largest livestock species to raise, however she is very familiar with the process of raising an animal. Hopkins has raised a lamb, goat and multiple pigs.

 Unlike most of her peers who were first introduced to FFA in their first year of highschool, Hopkins has been surrounded by FFA beginning at a young age. Hopkins has participated in 4H since she was 5 years old (12 years). According to, in 4‑H programs, kids and teens complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and civic engagement in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. Hopkins has done multiple different groups and projects, but she has most consistently contributed to the poultry and horse groups.

In addition to her exposure to agriculture through 4H, Kelli’s mother, Lisa Hopkins used to be a teacher at the highschool who was very involved in FFA, so Kelli was naturally involved. Lisa taught Ag biology, Veterinary Science, and Ag Mechanics throughout her 13 years of working at PRHS. Kelli’s greatest inspiration for joining and being so heavily involved in FFA stemmed from her mothers passion for it. 

“She’s really inspired me to just jump in with both feet and get stuff done,” Kelli said about her mother. “I remember I was probably four or five, and she used to take me on field trips with the high schoolers with FFA and that was always fun. And I used to spend time in the ag department and in the barn with all the animals when I was little. Now I’m doing it by myself; I’m financing my own projects, and finishing a project from start to finish.”

Along with her mothers participation in FFA, Kelli also had animals she would help raise at home such as horses, donkeys, chickens, ducks, pigs, and others. 

“I’ve known Kelli for quite a few years, prior to her start in high school. Her mother was an Agriculture Teacher here at PRHS for my first four years of teaching.  Getting the chance to know Kelli and her family outside of being a student here, and continuing to see the growth and maturity since her freshman year has been a unique and rewarding opportunity for me,” Pickard said.

Besides raising animals, another large aspect of FFA is public speaking competitions and leadership conferences. So far in Hopkins career, she has attended 7 conferences all over the state of California (4 in-person and 1 virtual). This year she plans to attend at least two more conferences: the Advanced Leadership Academy, which will be in Monterey this year, and the State Conference, which will be held in Sacramento this year. After competing in several public speaking competitions, Hopkins believes that confidence is the greatest thing she has learned.

FFA as a whole is really just built in order to boost students’ confidence in themselves, and educate people about what Ag can be not just like cows and pigs. It’s so much more than just living on a farm. FFA is just a great way to educate kids and to boost their confidence overall,” Hopkins said. “I’ve never been that nervous, even in middle school at speaking in front of people. I’ve been pretty okay speaking in front of a class, and now I barely bat a lash at just getting up in front of the class and giving a presentation. In fact, I actually enjoy doing that kind of stuff.”

Throughout her high school career, Kelli has taken over 7 Ag classes, including Intro to Floral her freshman year, Ag leadership sophomore year, Advance Animal Science and Ag Business her junior year. This year Kelli is taking Animal Industry and Production, Ag Government and Ag Economics. 

Amanda Gardner

Amanda Gardner, an agriculture teacher as well as one of the FFA Advisors at PRHS has had Kelli as one of her students for 3 years now and thinks Kelli represents the perfect Bearcat.

“Kelli is a wonderful student and a perfect example of a Bearcat. She is always prepared for class, punctual, respectful, determined and demonstrates integrity,” Gardner said. “She is fully committed to her FFA courses and her livestock projects. She is extremely dedicated and does a wonderful job.”

Hopkins would like to carry on the “learn by doing,” philosophy she has learned in 4H and FFA into her career as she would like to own a business one day. She enjoys the hands-on atmosphere FFA brings, and would like to incorporate that into anything she chooses to pursue in her business. 

“I really just love the process of starting something and finishing all the way out and then selling a product,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins is loved and respected by many of her teachers and friends. She is sure to have a bright future.

“She’s a super star! Kelli stands out amongst the crowd and rises to the top easily! Her character, her personality and her smile light up a room,”

Gardner said.
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