Opening Our Doors to High School FFA Competitions

I took a little time to stop out at the Service Motor Company Agriculture Center at the Appleton Campus on Friday morning to take in a regional FFA competition.  This was the 39th annual FFA Career Development event that we have hosted.  The morning’s competitions involved over 70 Wisconsin high schools and 1,200 of their students.  Our parking lot was filled with yellow buses, which is always wonderful to see!  And many of those buses left their local communities at a very early hour to be here in time for the event.

These students, as individuals and in teams, were competing in this regional event to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in 13 agriculture-related different areas…everything from agronomy to livestock, dairy products to ag mechanics, and more.  The various events were being held in every classroom and lab of the Ag Center, but also in other campus buildings as well as off-site locations such as the county fairgrounds and a local stable.  High school ag instructors were involved, our faculty and staff were heavily engaged, and many of our own students were assisting with running these events.  Students that qualify will then move on to the state and ultimately the national competitions.

What struck me was the monumental effort that it takes each year to plan, organize and implement such a large-scale event with so many competitions and SO many student participants.  It was clear that excellent planning went into this and everything was proceeding in a very orderly fashion with students keenly focusing on the task at hand and doing their very best.  There is nothing more fun to watch than students actually DOING things—being able to demonstrate their understanding of hydraulics, spraying systems, plants, animals, and food products, etc.

Hats off to our faculty, staff, and students for once again organizing this terrific showcase of the agriculture industry and partnering with the many high school FFA chapters to make such a great experience available to students.  It was definitely an engaging and confidence-building activity for these budding agriculturalists!

I remember being involved in a number of competitive events in high school through co-curricular activities and certainly found them to be great learning experiences.  Did involvement in high school competitive events like this have an impact on you or your career path?

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