A national victory

Monday, August 1, 2022
(Photo Contributed) Ian Hertenstein of Hinton was recently named the national winner of a FCCLA STAR event at a leadership conference in San Diego.

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

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

Hertenstein snatched the first place honor in a STAR event, the Food Innovation - Level 2 category.

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

It was on Friday, July 1 when Hertenstein presented his project entitled, “Facil Fajitas Prototypes.” The following day, Hertenstein learned 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 a complete and utter surprise. I knew that my project was good, but with so many other projects I knew that my chance was low going into it. Once they read out my school name I knew it was me, and a sense of happiness, pride, and surprise all came down upon me at once,” Hertenstein reflected.

Months of Prep Work

Hertenstein and his fellow group members spent four months perfecting the project’s little details.

“As a group we received so many inputs from our teacher/advisor. Some would go on to help perfect our project, while others were just little changes to our board to make it look better,” Hertenstein shared. “One of the best suggestions she (Advisor Alison Hertenstein) made was to find a way to make the whole thing healthy, not just the salt contents. This small change led us as a group to change our rice to cauliflower rice to make it more healthy.”

New Year, New Guidelines

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

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

“My partners and I selected this project because we thought it would be a good experience to learn out to create a healthy meal. It wasn’t just the science behind changing the recipe that we learned, it was also all the detail in pricing items, and finding the nutrition value of our meal. The things we learned from this experience are things that we can use in our everyday life. This just reassured our decision to choose this project.”

Hertenstein and his peers spent hours upon hours researching.

“There was so much research that had to be done to properly do our project. We had to research the average consumption of salt, how much we should consume, and what too much salt does for us,” he said. “We also researched recipes, so we could 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 at for retail pricing, we found how to make a nutrition label, and so much more.”

A Wealth of Experience

Hertenstein will be entering his third year of FCCLA with the start of the new school year in the fall.

“There are so many things I love about FCCLA, and the main one is the experiences. It prepares anyone involved for life in the home and in the workplace. I have had the chance to travel across the country and even advocate FCCLA in Washington, D.C.,” Hertenstein said.

“FCCLA is the ultimate leadership experience and I love everything it has done for me. As the current state president for 2022-2023, I have had the chance to see how an organization such as FCCLA works behind the sciences, as well.”

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

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: