FFA program gives students the opportunity to learn skills outside of the classroom
June 1, 2018
When Brent Freitag was a freshman at Windsor High School in Windsor, Colo., he started to take agriculture classes, but didn't give much thought to getting involved beyond that.
When it comes to involvement in the National FFA Organization, the basic level is simply taking the classes, which included a supervised agricultural experience, or SAE. But there are a number of teams and competitions students can get involved in, too, that really help hone skills for agriculture and non-agriculture professions. As a freshman, Freitag was talked into joining the school's dairy cattle evaluation and management team.
He was hesitant at first, until classmate Brianna McBride convinced him to join the team.
"She really showed me how fun FFA is and we ended up winning state with that team and going to the national convention," he said.
For McBride and Tori Weber, who just concluded her sophomore year at Windsor, there wasn't the same hesitation to be as involved outside of the classroom.
Weber, while she lives in town, is still committed and interested in learning what she can about agriculture. It's in her blood.
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Her sister, Carissa, was part of Windsor's program and eventually was the president of the chapter. Weber's father and grandfather also were part of Windsor's FFA program when they were in school.
While Weber hasn't lived on a farm, she'd go with her dad when he would help out on friends' farms.
That played a big part in wanting to be involved in FFA.
For her SAE, Weber said she raises chickens in her yard, which comes with the benefit of fresh eggs, which Weber prefers.
"I've always considered myself a farm girl, even though I definitely live in the middle of the city… I think me being in the city and having chickens can help me connect with my farm roots," Weber said.
Freitag and Weber made up two of the chapter officers for the 2017-18 school year as president and historian, respectively.
While Freitag didn't jump in right away, once he was involved he stayed involved. His dairy team won the state competition his first year and had the chance to travel to Louisville, Ky., for the national competition.
"It was really exciting for me to see. I really enjoyed being part of a team like that," he said.
TEAMS AND COMPETITION
The dairy competition includes four cows for each team to judge. They must rank the cows in order from best to worst, and give a reason for each. The winner is determined by how accurately they assessed each cow.
Weber was part of the meat evaluation team.
For that competition, the students learn the different cuts of meat and learn how to judge the quality of the cuts.
But she also was part of, along with Freitag, the parliamentary procedure team that will compete in June.
For that team, the students conduct a mock meeting to show their knowledge and execution of Robert's Rules of Order.
Weber said she joined the team after her adviser, Melinda Spaur, asked her to join. Just as Freitag's team that went to Louisville for the dairy judging team, if the team does well enough, they can qualify to compete for nationals, too.
"It's really unique and I wanted to try it," Weber said. ❖
— Fox is a reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (970) 392-4410 or on Twitter @FoxonaFarm.