As alluded to last week, the MCHS FFA chapter had great success at this year’s Kentucky FFA Associations’ State Convention. Like many events this year, the annual in person convention was canceled due to COVID-19, but thankfully, advancements in technology allowed for a virtual convention to be held instead. Though many aspects of a typical convention were scratched due to the circumstances, some of the presentations and guest speakers were able to continue on, virtually, along with some of the contests that did not require in-person contestants.
This past week I was able to set down with Meade County FFA Chapter Advisors and sisters, Noel Pack and Callie Hobbs along with Meade County FFA President and Lincoln Trail Regional Treasurer Cecilia Banks and Senior Kenzey Compton. They discussed the chapter’s recent success at the state level and a return to nationals for both Banks and Compton (both young ladies were a part of the Ag Issues team in 2019 that won the state and competed at the FFA National Convention last fall).
Noel Pack said that every FFA member is required to have a supervised agriculture experience (SAE). As a freshman or a sophomore, they establish a program, whether it is production based, they are working for someone or they have their own business.
“The idea is for students to gain opportunity somehow in job experience, and hopefully when the time comes, those are things that they can put on a resume,” stated Callie Hobbs. “So, when they do go to apply for jobs or if it turns into a lifelong career, then they have something to fall back on because they can say I have done this to gain this experience to be a valuable employee.”
There are over 40 areas that students can choose to pursue. Contrary to popular belief, many of these have little to do with stereotypical farming. The FFA kept its initials but abandoned the Future Farmers of America moniker years ago, as agriculture expanded into many other areas than just the farmer. A few examples are wildlife management, veterinarian science and landscaping.
Once a student chooses an SAE and has a year of data under their belt, they can pursue a Proficiency in that area and apply to compete at the regional level. If they win, they are then allowed to compete at the state convention.
The advisors said that this is the best the chapter has ever done in Proficiencies, and they are super proud of the hard work these students put in. Prior to this year, they’ve had a student win here and there, but this year, Meade County had three students win their area along with placing second or third in five other Proficiencies.
Pack said that it is a twenty page application with essay questions, finance balance sheets, hours worked, wages, assets, liabilities, capital and picture evidence supporting what they are doing with their project. Hobbs added the applications can take up to twenty hours or longer to prepare. There is also a resume that must be filled out along with obtaining a signature from an administrator who has looked over it along with the chapter advisors.
This year Cecilia Banks placed first in Swine Production Placement, Kenzey Compton placed first in Vegetable Production, Toby Graham placed first in Diversified Horticulture, Hayden Knott placed second in Specialty Animal Production, Jasey Allen placed second in Diversified Livestock Production, Cecilia Banks placed second in Agriculture Sales Placement, Kaley Mills placed third in Sheep Production and Austin Pike placed third in Fiber and Oil Crop. The three state winners will now move on to compete at the FFA National Convention later this fall. The Meade County chapter also had nine students receive their State FFA degrees and the chapter received a Gold Emblem rating based off their activity, competitions, community involvement and community service.
The one downside was that they were not able to be at the convention in person, especially with as many students as MCHS had place at the state level this year.