By: Caitlin Powers
Students from the Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications Department traveled to Louisville, KY to compete in Career Development Events at the National FFA Convention October 30-31, 2013.
CDEs are contests designed to help FFA members develop the ability to think critically, communicate clearly, and perform effectively in a competitive job market. At nationals, each state is represented by the top team from the state contest.
Freshman agricultural communications and journalism majors Hannah Shirley and Katie Fuller as well Whitney Green, freshman agricultural leadership and development major, competed in three different events. These students had competed at the state level during their senior year of high school and are able to continue to compete with their team into their college career.
“I thought I had taken off that national blue jacket for the last time,” Shirley said, “To be able to come back as a college student was incredible.”
Representing the state of Texas, Shirley competed in the agricultural issues forum contest with her team of six from Madisonville FFA.
“To compete and represent Texas at the national level is a huge privilege,” Shirley said.
In this contest, the team chooses a pressing agricultural issue and presents the issue’s pro and cons in a forum. The purpose of the event, Shirley said, is to educate the community and state about the issue by presenting facts for the audience to be able to make an informed decision on the issue.
Shirley and her team shined bright for the state of Texas and the ALEC department by placing first at the national contest.
“The opportunity to come back and represent my school one last time and come out on top is an amazing way to end my FFA career,” Shirley said.
Green represented Texas in the farm business management contest that tests FFA members over farm accounting and management techniques and processes. With plans of becoming an agricultural attorney, Green said participating in the contest is beneficial for her to help her understand how a farm business works for her to be successful.
Green and her team from the Stephenville FFA chapter placed sixteenth putting them in the top half of teams who competed at the national contest.
“Competing on the national level was incredible,” Green said. “To think that I was on the number one team from Texas was amazing itself but then to have the chance at ranking among other states was even better!”
Fuller, from Damascus, OR, represented Oregon in the agricultural communications contest with her team from the North Clackamas FFA chapter. For the contest, the team is required to put together a communications plan proposal, present it to a panel of judges, plus take an editing and communications quiz.
“I really love telling people’s stories and this is basically what our project was,” Fuller said.
As an agricultural communications and journalism major, Fuller said the contest was a good way to get introduced to the world of agricultural communications. Her and her team placed fourth in the nation.
Competing at nationals would be one of the last times these students would wear their FFA jackets, marking the end of one chapter of their lives and the start of another here in the ALEC department.
“It was inside that blue jacket that I became the person I am today,” Fuller said. “You go into it an awkward caterpillar and you come out of it a butterfly, ready to fly.”
Ending their FFA careers with an achievement such as competing at nationals is bittersweet for the three but new achievements wait for them in the ALEC department.
“It is exciting and scary at the same time to take off the blue jacket and see where my new wings can take me,” Fuller said.