Newberg high alum news — 2013 grad and current state FFA officer scores Newbergs best-ever finish in extemporaneous speaking

LOUISVILLE, Kent. — Watching from the audience at the 2012 FFA national convention, Newberg’s Aaron Morland was inspired by the national finals of the extemporaneous speaking competition.

He couldn’t help think he wanted to be on stage among the last four competitors.

A year later, Morland did just that Nov. 2 at the Kentucky Convention Center in Louisville, placing third to become the highest-ever finisher in Newberg FFA history in that event.

“It was crazy. I never thought that I was going to make it to the final four, but I put in a lot of work in the weeks coming up to the convention,” Morland said. “A third-place finish, even though once you got to the final four you want to win, and just having the opportunity to compete at that level, was incredible.”

Newberg High School teacher and Newberg FFA advisor Bob Beckner reported hearing from many people that Morland should have won, but pointed out that when you get to the final round, very little can separate the four contestants.

“You’re getting down to the nitty gritty, just details and little things,” Beckner said.

“Sometimes it’s personal peeves of the judges or whatever. But being in the final four in the United States, that’s pretty incredible,” Beckner said.

In extemporaneous speaking, contestants draw an agricultural topic and are given 30 minutes to prepare a four- to six-minute speech and answer follow-up questions for five minutes. Participants have some idea of the topics and are allowed to research ahead of time, which can be recorded in a notebook for use during their prep time.

In the preliminaries Oct. 30, Morland was required to cover how recent advancements in agriscience technology have helped production agriculture.

His semifinal topic was an examination of urban agriculture and education about the benefits of agriculture, both urban and traditional, to individuals in urban areas.

Morland learned at a banquet that evening that he had advanced to the finals and was informed by Beckner of his new standing in the history of Newberg FFA.

“Newberg’s had such a strong tradition of success and excellence for the last 35, 40 years, so that when he told me I was the only one to make it that far in extemporaneous speaking, it was almost as gratifying as it was humbling,” Morland said. “I just thought it’s amazing that I’ve gotten this far. It was awesome.”

On Nov. 2, Morland was pleased to draw a topic for which he was quite prepared: making adjustments to the food and fiber system to accommodate a growing world population.

“I was ready for it and was able to give some good facts and information about some adjustments with urban agriculture, some advancements in biotechnology for production agriculture and then some international food distributions solutions,” Morland said.

Morland underwent extensive training over the summer in preparation for service as an officer of the Oregon FFA chapter this school year, which has him traveling across the state speaking to classrooms and training chapter leaders. He said that practicing and competing in extemporaneous speaking prepared him for that experience, which in turn made him a more seasoned public speaker heading into the national competition.

“When I was working on it for the state level, I found myself able to do better in school presentations, being more relaxed talking in front of the class instead of having to create written-out prepared speech,” Morland said. “Just being able to think quickly definitely is important.”

Morland’s performance is a nice feather in the Newberg chapter’s hat, but from his perspective, he said he felt grateful for everything it has done for him and made a nice gesture by opting not to wear the state chapter blazer.

“I chose to wear my Newberg jacket just to represent where my roots are and where I come from,” Morland said. “Newberg really helped me get to the level I was at.”

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