HUNTSVILLE — Students in the Waxahachie High School FFA competed in the state competition of the Leadership Development Events on Dec. 1 and 2 in Huntsville.
All four teams placed that traveled to Sam Houston State University placed in the top 20 with three freshmen bringing home the largest banner.
The Waxahachie FFA junior and senior farm skills teams each placed in the top-10 in the state.
The three freshman, who comprised the Greenhand Skills team, finished second out of 241 teams, while the upperclassmen placed fifth out of 372 teams.
For the skills demonstration, the teams have to discuss and demonstrate a topic on a class-related subject. Both teams conducted a 15-to-20 minute presentation on the same topic of polyethylene fusion.
Jeannette Middleton, WHS FFA advisor, said, “They demonstrate an agriculture skill so it can be pretty much anything you can imagine agricultural-wise — anything from wiring a trailer to what we do is polyethylene fusion. So we fuse polyethylene pipe. It’s the new and upcoming skill.”
The only difference between the Greenhand and senior demonstrations is that the seniors are asked questions at the end of their presentation. James Glenn, an FFA advisor, explained the manner in which the students answer the questions plays a considerable role in how they are placed.
Representing the senior team was Brandie Steele, Zeb Brown and Kayla Milholen.
Being complied of all freshmen, the Greenhand team didn’t have as much time to prepare their presentations and practice like the seniors. Those upperclassmen have the advantage of beginning practice the first week of school and already being familiar with the skill.
“Those [freshmen] kids are super dedicated. They came in before school, during tribe time, a lot during the evenings and weekends to get prepared for the contest,” Middleton said about the freshmen team.
The Greenhand team was made-up by Ava Corey, Rylan Denny and Landon Davis. They said going into this competition they noticed the other teams had an edge to them and knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But once they made it to the second round at state, they knew they were doing something right.
Davis said, “At first I was shocked because I didn’t think we did that well."
Denny emphasized on how hard they focused on their speaking abilities most. Corey added, “I think we had pretty high expectations honestly. From the beginning, we all did pretty well and then we got better as we went. Our classmates and teachers all told us we had the potential to do pretty well and we were able to fulfill that.”
Now that the bar has been set, they expect to win first place the next go around.
“I think that our big thing is that we were probably nervous, definitely the second time but now that we have been there and done it, we hopefully won’t be as nervous and will perform better,” Davis explained.
Another team that placed well was the Agriculture Advocacy team, finishing 10th out of 286 teams.
High school team members were Landry Bosher, Kaitlyn Linsenbardt, Abigail Morton, Lea Wade and Madison Teel. This year the team spoke about myths in agriculture.
“When you’re top 10, that’s really something. It’s pretty impressive — even if you’re number 20 —you still beat 260 teams to get there. It’s something to be proud of,” Middleton said.
The Senior Chapter Conducting team placed top 20 out of 236 teams. Team members consisted of Whitney Johnson, Cathryn Bingham, Katherine Ward, Anna Rodgers, Meagan Connor, Ragan Ward, Meredith Fay, Baylie Paris, Brooke Trull and Jerica Bell.
“We spend a lot of time harping on these kids, getting them the best they can be,” Middleton said. "I think a lot of the time we don’t praise them as much as we should because we see the potential in them. We want them to be as good as they can be and I think anytime we can express our true gratitude is great."