Colorado FFA members excel at State Convention
June 16, 2014
Competing in the many contests that Future Farmers of America offers is a highlight in the year for many FFA students.
These contests teach discipline, problem solving and communication. They also teach students to learn how to public speak, through several different contests.
The first contest that nearly every FFA member competes in the creed speaking contest. This contest requires members to memorize the FFA creed, perform it, and answer questions based on the meaning.
This year's contest was won by Maddie Pollart, who just finished her freshman year at Prairie High School in New Raymer.
"I felt pretty good about my performance. On the morning of the first session at convention, I was told that I had won. At the third session, I gave the creed to the entire session of 1,500 people. It was really exciting," she said.
She added, "I was really honored to be able to win the state creed speaking contest. One of the coolest parts was I got to go backstage and was offered advice from so many state FFA officers. Our state officers are really helpful."
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Pollart was originally not scheduled to compete at the state contest, as she placed second at the district competition after winner her chapter contest.
"Only the top person from districts gets to go to state. Two and a half weeks before state convention, I was told the winner couldn't make it so I got to go instead," she stated.
Most district winners have a few months to prepare for the state contest, which is held in May at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Pollart didn't have as much time, but she made the time that she had count.
"I hadn't said the creed for a couple months. My ag teacher had asked me to say it at our banquet, so I had a little practice. The last few days before the contest I worked on it and felt pretty good about it," she said.
This is Pollart's first year in FFA.
"I wanted to join FFA because I love agricultural life. I get to go out in the shop and weld, and I love welding. I also get to learn more about animals and the life that I lead," she said.
She continued, "My family has been in FFA. Prairie is a very agricultural based school, and we have a wonderful support system in the community. Farmers and ranchers fully support the FFA and I really wanted to be a part of that."
She began in 4-H showing pigs, which she said she enjoyed.
"I did that for several years, and I really enjoyed 4-H and being in the ring," she said.
However, now her focus is on beef production entrepreneurship, which is her supervised agricultural experience (SAE).
"I currently have one cow and her calf, and I have sold one calf already and I'm using that money to fuel my operation. I am hoping by the end of my high school career I'll have seven to 10 cattle," Pollart explained.
Her entire family raises Black Angus cattle.
"It's a family thing with our cattle operation. We all help each other. My dad went ahead and gave me a heifer two years ago, and my sister also got a heifer. So we now have a cow to call our own. We were raised around cattle our entire life, so it's really cool," she said.
She is interested in the production side of raising beef, not in showing.
"I like the idea of bringing a calf into the world, helping raise it and having the final product for the market. I'm more interested in the market/beef production side of things," Pollart stated.
Being in FFA has helped her public-speaking skills that she can use throughout her life.
"I plan to do extemporaneous speaking next year, and then prepared. I really do enjoy it. It's fun. I'm excited to see how I do in those," she said.
She also enjoys FFA because of the people she meets and the places she travels.
"I have made so many friends in FFA, and I really like all the traveling that I get to do. I got to go to National Convention and compete at state CDEs in Fort Collins," Pollart said.
Even though she is only a freshman, she already has big plans for her future.
"I hope to attend a four-year university, and I would like to do a degree in broadcast journalism, where I can be a sports broadcaster or sports announcer. I love the world of sports," she said.
She doesn't plan on leaving the world of agriculture, though.
"I want to farm and stay in agriculture. I want to keep that tradition of home-grown. I will definitely have agriculture in my future," Pollart said.
Another winner in the speaking contests was Tara Cook, who just graduated from Sterling High School. She won the prepared speaking contest with her speech that focused on the gluten-free trend.
"This year I wanted to do prepared speaking. My speech focused on the gluten-free diet trend, and it's effects on agriculture. I talked about what the diet trend is, and how it's affecting agriculture in a negative way," she said.
Cook choose this topic because of its relativity.
"It's an up and coming topic. I have friends with celiac's, and they have to be on a gluten-free diet. However, as I was researching, I found how unnecessary it was for others and how it's just a trend," she said.
She added, "I found out some shocking surprises. There are some authors who are bashing agriculture, and people want an easy way to fix being over weight and blame the farmers."
Her speech evolved as she worked on it more.
"I revamped my speech many times. I added a lot of facts and did more research. I had to know the topic, including what celiac disease is and how gluten affects people. I had to know a lot of statistics on gluten," Cook explained.
She continued, "I worked on making it sound better for the state level. I had to remain sensitive to people who do have celiac's disease. I learned how it affects them, and how it's a burden for people. I also learned about gluten sensitivity and how people with that are jumping on a bandwagon."
She chose this topic because of her interest in food production.
"I was really interested in learning more, and I wanted to do an ag topic that related to food supply. I really like microbiology so all of my projects relate back to that," she stated.
She has competed in many science fairs and in agriscience research through FFA.
"My first project dealt with radiation and food. The second one was about antibiotic and bacterial resistance. This year my project was a plant science project using a bacteria for fertilizer in corn and wheat. I have a class in my high school and my science teacher heads it up. The first semester we research and do a big paper, and my second semester we do the project and attend science fairs," Cook explained.
Due to her interest in food science, Cook plans to attend Kansas State University this fall, where she will be pursuing a degree in food science and industry.
"I want to do research on food and food safety. I also want to be an advocate for agriculture. It has motivated me to correct fallacies on food. The ag industry is working towards feeding the population and is safe," she said.
She added, "I like the aspect that the ag industry has to feed the world. The U.S. has the safest food system in the world."
She has greatly enjoyed her FFA experience.
"I enjoy everything. I love traveling, and have been on a few officer teams. Last year I was president, and I really like helping the younger members. I like seeing the younger members have the same opportunities that I have," she said ❖
The Colorado state FFA convention was held May 28-30 in Alamosa, Colo. The theme for the convention was "Cultivate." At the convention, award winners were recognized, as well as the State FFA Degree recipients. The new state FFA officers were also elected.