Participation in Texas FFA fall competitions, now termed Leadership Career Development Events surged to record levels in 2013.
Eight hundred and eight-six of the state’s 1,037 local chapters fielded at least one entry at the district level. The 85.44% statewide participation rate is a high mark for the organization since it began tracking participation data in 2000. Statewide participation was 71.88% (698 out of 971) in 2000. Five thousand eight hundred and five entries were fielded statewide, an all-time record and a 12.65% increase over 2012 levels.
The uptick in student engagement follows the record-setting membership increase over 2012-2013. Texas FFA membership crossed the 100,000 mark in November and stood at 101,658 in early December.
Seven of the state’s 57 FFA districts reported that 100% of their chapters fielded at least one entry. Area I reported the highest rate of chapter participation with 92.31% of its chapters engaging in fall leadership competitions.
Ten of 13 events recorded all-time high marks: Greenhand Creed, Senior Creed, Greenhand Quiz, Senior Quiz, Greenhand Skill Demonstration, Senior Skill Demonstration, Senior Chapter Conducting, Job Interview, Broadcasting and Agricultural Advocacy all hit all-time record participation, since records have been kept in the modern era. Participation in some events, Creed Speaking and Broadcasting, is somewhat inflated due to the practice of districts in sparsely populated areas to allow multiple entries.
Two hundred and sixteen chapters waded into the Agricultural Advocacy competition in its inaugural season as a state event. Seventy-five chapters in eight areas participated in an area-level pilot in 2012. Prior to the launch of the advocacy event, the last new competition rollout was the Job Interview event in 2000, which also had 216 entrants in its original season.
Except for a six-year hiatus created by World War II, fall FFA leadership-based competitions have been hosted by Sam Houston State University continuously since 1931 when C.T. Heath of Henderson won the state public speaking title and Willis won the debate crown. Chapter Conducting, Skill Demonstration and Greenhand FFA Quiz are the longest continually running fall events, all of which were initiated when contests resumed after World War II in 1948.