From left to right: Miss Congeniality winner Emerson, Susan Harrell Award winner Bailey, second runner-up Ashlyn, 2024 Sweetheart Gabija Davila, first runner-up Anna Lane, third runner-up and Miss Blue and Gold Lexi and People’s Choice winner Ashlin.

Newsome High School hosted its annual Future Farmers of America (FFA) Sweetheart Pageant at the end of March as a fundraiser event.

Seven contestants competed in the pageant on March 29 in the school’s auditorium and were judged based on the pageant and FFA experience. Three people, Deanna Garner, Emily Groat and Lindsey English, judged the contestants.

At the end of the night, senior Gabija Davila was crowned the Sweetheart.

“She is a senior with seven years of experience in FFA,” advisor Melissa Sampson said. “She exhibits beef cattle, pigs, sheep and participates in many of our FFA CDEs, such as … citrus evaluation and livestock judging.”

Around 150 people were in attendance, according to Sampson. Over 100 tickets were presold for the event. Presold tickets were $5, or $10 if bought at the door. Sponsorships were also available for companies looking to support the organization.

In addition to the pageant, Newsome’s FFA program gave away raffle items and had refreshments and a bouquet stand.

“The event was a fundraiser for the Newsome FFA alumni,” Sampson said. “The alumni support our FFA chapter much like a booster club. They help financially with our chapter functions, travel, contests and etc.”

The first Newsome FFA Sweetheart Pageant was hosted in 2006. This is the 13th annual contest after taking a year off during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The contestants and escorts were phenomenal,” the organization posted on the Facebook page. “Thank you all for representing Newsome and our chapter in such a positive way.”

The pageant is one of several fundraisers the Newsome FFA hosts. This semester, the organization has hosted a Spirit Night at Sunflower Cafe and a music bingo night with Bullfrog Creek Brewing Co.

The Newsome FFA also participates in several competitions throughout the school year to showcase its members’ skills, including livestock raising.

FFA provides an opportunity for students to gain agricultural and leadership experience through local chapters, events and opportunities. The national organization strives to help the next generation of farmers develop their skills and talents.

For more information on the Newsome High School FFA or to find out about upcoming events, visit Instagram @newsomeffa or Facebook at “Newsome FFA.”

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Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.