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Woodstown FFA Member Earns National FFA Proficiency Award
For Immediate Release: October 29, 2001 Contact:

Hope Gruzlovic


John H. Coombs, Jr., son of John and Donna Coombs of Elmer, Salem County, became the first New Jersey FFA member in more than a decade to win a national proficiency award. He took top honors in specialty crop production at the 74th National FFA Convention in Louisville, KY, last week. His Woodstown FFA advisor is Mrs. Cheryl Lowe. Coombs began growing vegetables and selling them in front of his house when he was just 12 years old. In his freshman year of high school, John began growing pumpkins, planting them on three acres of ground that he tilled by hand as a part of a Supervised Agriculture Experience program that connects "real world" experiences to classroom instruction. The project has expanded to 10 acres of top-quality, machine-cultivated pumpkins. Coombs is currently a student at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA, majoring in agronomy. He hopes to return to the family farm and carry on the family business. Coombs, who currently serves as State FFA Parliamentarian, will travel to Costa Rica in June as part of the national FFA's international experience along with current State FFA President Michael Brooks, also a member of Woodstown FFA. Brooks was a finalist at the national conference in the fruit and vegetable production category. Proficiency awards recognize FFA members who excel as agricultural entrepreneurs, employees or volunteers. The specialty crop award, one of 46 proficiency award categories, was sponsored by Cerexagri; BASF as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

Doug Kueker (left), National FFA Vice President, congratulates John Coombs, Woodstown FFA's National Proficiency Award Winner, on his achievement. A beaming Cheryl Lowe, Woodstown FFA Chapter Advisor, looks on.

Agriculture Secretary Art Brown, Jr., (far left) and Assembly Speaker Jack Collins (far right) joined Acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco in congratulating Woodstown FFA member John Coombs, Jr., on his national FFA Proficiency Award achievement. Coombs, who who currently serves as State FFA Parliamentarian, is the first New Jersey FFA member to win the national award in more than a decade.