Local News: A National Victory (1/8/22)

(Photo provided) Hinton’s Ian Hertenstein was recently named a national winner of an FCCLA STAR event at a leadership conference in San Diego.

HINTON — Number one in the nation. Yes, you read that right: the nation.

That’s what Ian Hertenstein, who will be a junior at Hinton in the 2022-2023 school year, won at the FCCLA National Leadership Conference in San Diego earlier this summer.

Hertenstein took first place honors in a STAR event, the Food Innovation – Level 2 category.

“Finishing first in a STAR event meant more than words can explain,” said Hertenstein. “It was the result of many hours of hard work and dedication to a project. I felt great pride in what I had created with my two partners, Kyra Peters and Sara Skuodas. They helped me do everything with the project, including passing the state level. It’s not easy to finish in the top three, but winning is almost impossible.”

It was on Friday, July 1, that Hertenstein presented his project entitled “Easy Fajitas Prototypes”. The next day, Hertenstein learned that he was in the Top 10, before being named the overall winner on Sunday, July 3.

“My reaction to finding out that I came in the top three and first overall was complete and utter shock. I knew my project was good, but with so many other projects I knew my chances were low. Once they read the name of my school, I knew it was me, and a feeling of happiness, pride and surprise washed over me at the same time,” reflected Hertenstein.

months of prep work

Hertenstein and his groupmates spent four months perfecting the small details of the project.

“As a group, we get a lot of input from our teacher/advisor. Some would help refine our project, while others were just minor changes to our dashboard to make it look better,” Hertenstein shared. “One of the best suggestions she (advisor Alison Hertenstein) made was to find a way to make everything healthy, not just the salt content. This small change led us as a group to change our rice to cauliflower rice to make it healthier.”

New year, new rules

Every year, the national FCCLA sets parameters for what projects should be, Hertenstein explained.

“This year it was to create a low sodium meal kit. The food had to have less than 720 mg of sodium per serving. The focus of our project was to create a meal kit that was easy for busy families to create, all while being heart healthy,” he said.

“My partners and I chose this project because we thought it would be a good experience to learn how to create a healthy meal. It wasn’t just the science behind changing the recipe that we learned, but also all the details in pricing items and finding the nutritional value of our food. The things we learned from this experience are things we can use in our daily lives. This only reaffirmed our decision to choose this project.”

Hertenstein and his colleagues spent hours and hours researching.

“There was so much research that had to be done to get our project right. We had to research average salt intake, how much we should be consuming, and what makes us too salty,” he said. “We also research recipes, so we can find the perfect one for our project. The more research we did, the better our project got. We found out what to properly sell our project for at retail prices, found out how to make a Nutrition Facts label, and much more.”

A wealth of experience

Hertenstein will enter her third year of FCCLA with the start of the new school year in the fall.

“There are so many things that I love about FCCLA, and the main thing is the experiences. Prepares anyone involved for life at home and in the workplace. I have had the opportunity to travel across the country and even advocate for the FCCLA in Washington, DC,” Hertenstein said.

“FCCLA is the best leadership experience and I love everything it has done for me. As the current state president for 2022-2023, I have had the opportunity to see how an organization like FCCLA also works behind the sciences.”

A couple hundred students from across the country competed in nationals in the Food Innovations category.

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