Rider Values Passion, Cooperation

ST. MARYS — Memorial High School senior Chelsea Yahl, 18, loves being involved and being outside — she devotes her time to the things she loves to do, including FFA, band, track, softball, and 4-H.

For Yahl, being in FFA, which she has been in since her freshman year, is about being a team and working together with her fellow FFA members to accomplish their goals.

“A banquet’s coming up here in April,” she said. “The first week of February, we had an FFA week where we had contests during the week and dress-up days, and you could dress up in your coveralls or your tractor shirt. That Thursday and Friday we brought in animals and and we had kindergarten classes come in and the daycare from TLC. And they brought kids in and we made goodie bags with some stuff in them.”

Yahl is the sentinal for the school’s FFA chapter.

“I just kind of help with everything,” she said.”

An important element of being an officer is not to assume power, but to share it with others. She values being able to work with the others in her group and share the responsibility that comes along with being in FFA.

She is grateful for the opportunities that have come with being involved in the group, such as the state convention she goes to ever year.

“All of the FFAs from all over Ohio come to the Columbus State Fair, and we have this big convention, and they talk to us and they bring motivational speakers, and stuff like that. It’s pretty fun, just the experiences that I’ve had,” Yahl said.

Being a member is a lot of fun, too, she said.

“We go on officer trips,” Yahl said  “We’ve only taken one so far ... We went up to northeastern Ohio and just kind of visited some places up there. We took all the officers and we took a school van and what we did is we planned out all the things we were going to do this year ... We wrote down ideas for the banquet, and for FFA week and for (other places) we can go on officer trips. We basically made a to-do list of the year. And we put certain people in charge of certain projects.”

When Yahl talks about being in band, another of her many activities, the enthusiasm and excitement in her voice is apparent. Yahl has been in band since fifth grade. She plays the bass drum.

“A bass drum normally has the beats in the music and they’re the deeper sounds,” she said. “I’ve always liked band and music, and I always got beats really easily, like if you listen to a song, I’ve always caught on really quick. Its pretty fun. I love band. That’s probably the one thing I’ll miss the most.”

The recent trip to Florida was the experience of a lifetime for Yahl, and she described the day the band played in the Citrus Bowl Parade as one she will never forget.

“It was only like 70 degrees when we went down there, and the day that we did the parade it was kind of sprinkling but once we started playing it started this torrential downpour,” she said. “It was so fun marching in the pouring rain.”

Sports are also a big part of Yahl’s life, as she is on the school track team and plays softball for a summer league. In track, she participates in two events — the hurdles and the long jump.

“I started hurdles at first my freshman year and then long jump just kind of came along because I have really long legs,” she said. “My coach was the one who said, ‘Hey, you should do long jump.’ And I tried it out and I was actually halfway decent at it.”

Softball has been a part of her life for much longer, as Yahl has been playing since about the age of 10. She has made several friends through the league, with whom she now goes to school, and has had fun playing third base and left field.

Yahl is the kind of person who hates to be inside, sitting on the couch doing nothing. So in addition to everything else, she is also active in 4H. Her choice of animal to show at this year’s fair is undecided, she said, but she will probably stick to small animals for her last year.

“In previous years, I’ve taken goats, hogs and rabbits,” she said.

Hogs, Yahl said, are the most work to show.

“You have to walk them twice a day and feed them twice a day, and you have to watch their weight,” she said. “We usually weigh ours about once a week, because there’s a weight limit that they can be for fair and you have to make sure that they make it and they don’t go over it. (Walking them) builds muscle and that’s what the judges want for fair and it helps them build a nicer shape. It kind of keeps them calm, too.”

Yahl is uncertain about what life after high school will hold for her,  where she will go to school or what she will study. Early childhood development is an interest, as she loves kids and is frequently babysitting.

“(Kids) get along with me,” Yahl said. “I like the littler kids, babies, and when they’re like seven on down ... They’re just fun to be around.”

Her tentative plans are to apply to local schools like Wright State University Lake Campus or OSU in Lima, as St. Marys is where she wants to make a home for herself.

“This is where I grew up and this is where I want my kids to grow up, just because I like the small-town community,” Yahl said.