In an effort to increase agricultural awareness, not only in rural areas but also in the urban areas, today’s FFA (Future Farmers of America) looks a bit different from its origin. Many programs have broadened the fields of study available to students. Some of the new areas of interest involve research, technology, and marketing as it applies to agriculture. This allows for students to have the opportunity to be a part of FFA even though they are not able to have hands on animal projects. In the state of Nevada, any student that is enrolled in an agriculture education course in a high school is a member of the national FFA organization. Students have the opportunity to participate in Leadership Development Events (LDE) or Career Development Events (CDE).
Poultry is a relatively new CDE opportunity for Nevada students in FFA. The Poultry Evaluation Career Development Event is made up of a team of 4 students with an alternate. Students participate in learning activities related to production and management, processing, marketing and food safety, and quality of poultry products. Students select live meat-type chickens/turkeys for broiler/breeding, evaluate and place live egg-type hens, grade egg quality (interior and exterior), and rate the finished product by evaluating and grading ready-to-cook carcasses of chickens and turkeys. The students also take a written exam that involves knowledge that may range from the raising of poultry, the mathematics for figuring feeds, harvesting ratios, or calculating production costs. Identification of different cuts of meat is part of their tests as well as oral reasons for class placement.
Once the team has practiced and studied, they head to State to compete with other FFA chapters throughout the state. Usually State is held at University of Nevada-Reno in March, but with COVID-19 issues, students this March did virtual exams on their computers at home. This year’s winning team came out of the Churchill County FFA Chapter. The team will next compete at Nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana. Again, with the issues involving COVID-19, Nationals will not be having any career competitions this year. The team will have to wait until 2021 to compete. This year’s winning team has one senior that graduated, but luckily, she will be able to continue to practice and study with her teammates and participate in the 2021 competition.
The team will be doing fund raising during the upcoming school year to help with the traveling expenses. The group hopes to stay about a week when they go so that the students have time to tour some of the local agricultural areas and/or a college campus in the area. Congratulations to the team and the best of luck with the upcoming competition.
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