Sequim Gazette staff
Rio Mowbray, 18, is officially one of the most proficient FFA students in the nation.
The Sequim High School graduate and current Eastern Washington University student recently was named the national winner of the Equine Science - Placement Proficiency award at the 86th National FFA Convention, Oct. 30-Nov. 2, in Louisville, Ky.
She traveled with six members of the Sequim FFA for the event and was surprised to learn she won one of 49 proficiency award winners against more than 550,000 eligible students.
Mowbray said she has never won an award on a national scale before and had no idea she’d win.
“I’m pretty excited,” she said. “My friends were cheering for me when I was on stage but it was so loud I couldn’t hear them.”
For the award, Mowbray worked as a veterinarian assistant for a few years under Dr. Sarah Owens’ equine practice at Sequim Animal Hospital and as a riding instructor on her own time. She documented her experiences and kept track of her finances. She sent in applications and interviewed with horse experts in Kentucky.
She received $500 and a plaque as a finalist and another $500 and plaque for winning.
Sequim FFA advisor Steve Mahitka was by her side when she won.
“It was a lot of time and effort. I am pretty proud of it,” she said.
As part of the competition, she also was awarded a trip to a leadership conference in Costa Rica.
Mowbray has been with FFA less than a year and is studying biology in college with hopes to become a physical therapist.
She plans to take her animals to the Clallam County Fair this summer to compete.
Mowbray has been interested in caring for horses since she was 5 and soon thereafter began taking courses in management with support from her parents Rick and Julie Mowbray.