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By: Kaleigh Burnett, Student Rec. & Scholarship Coordinator
November 15, 2014

Texas FFA members shined in national competitions hosted by the National FFA Organization. Members dominated the agriscience fair and made a solid showing in career development events and award competitions based on student supervised agricultural experience programs. Texans also made significant gains in the National Chapter Awards standings. 
“It’s not a perfect correlation, but national competition gives us an idea how our students, teachers and programs stack up against those in other states,” said Tom Maynard, Texas FFA Executive Director.

“Intense competition at the state level usually produces students who can perform consistently at a high level on a national stage,” said Maynard. “The overall performance by our students is a credit to them and their teachers.”
“National competition also reveals areas that need attention,” said Maynard. “After the dust settles, we always sit down to dissect the data and assess current strategies and tactics to improve overall student performance.” 
Texas Recognized for Nation’s Top Membership Growth for the Fifth Consecutive Year

The Texas FFA Association was recognized for the nation’s top membership growth in an award ceremony that was part of the national delegate process. Texas FFA grew by 8,444 between membership year 2012-13 and 2013-14 become the first state association to surpass 95,000 in total membership. The Texas membership surge accounted for 28% of the National FFA Organization’s 30,319-student membership growth. Texas FFA has grown by 40,764 members since 2009, in large part to a revision in the membership business model. 2014 marks the fifth consecutive year that Texas has recorded the top membership gain.

Texans Dominate in National Agriscience Fair

Texas members brought five national titles in the National FFA Agriscience Fair back to the Lone Star State, with 16 of its 24 finalists finishing in the top three and 23 rated as gold in the four tier rating system (gold, silver, bronze, participants).

Stephenville FFA led the way with two national winners along with James Madison FFA that captured three national runner-ups. 

“These results are a direct reflection of the variety of research methods displayed in agriscience; and are representative of the academic rigor and STEM integration as well. Agriscience is STEM and has always been STEM,” said Dr. Rudy Ritz, Texas FFA Agriscience Fair Superintendent and Texas Tech University professor.

Texas had all 24 of its entries qualify for the national finals in pre-judging held earlier in the year. The FFA Agriscience Fair provides a showcase for members whose individual experiential learning program, referred to as a supervised agricultural experience, is research and experimentation in sciences related to the animal, plant, food, social and environmental sciences and engineering.

Historically, Texas members have fared well in the national competition winning a new total of a record 65 Agriscience Fair national titles since the event’s inception in 1998. No state has ever won more agriscience championships than Texas. 

Texans had the greatest number and percentage of its entries finishing in the top three and the largest number of gold-rated entries. Georgia had the most overall winning entries. 
Agriscience Fair Championships
(All-time since 1998)
1. Texas-65
2. New Jersey-22
3. Minnesota-21
4. Iowa-20
5. California -17
National Champions
• Kyle Ramsey and Kynsee Gesch, Navasota: Animal Systems, Division 4
• Michah Rainey, Stephenville: Environmental/Natural Resource Systems, Division 1
• Gage Duffy, Krum: Plant Systems, Division 1 
• Riley McKinzie and Jessica Dammers, Stephenville: Power, Structural and Technical Systems, Division 3
• Samuel Gostomski, Bandera: Social Systems, Division 2

National Runner-up
• Olivia Wise-Dent, James Madison: Animal Systems, Division 1
• Mikaela Sorrells and Katrina Ponce, James Madison: Animal Systems, Division 3 
• Brandt Donathan, Frenship: Environmental Services/Natural Resource Systems, Division 2
• Sterling Pieniazek and Taylor Shertz, Krum: Environmental Services/Natural Resource Systems, Division 3
• Courtney Adams and Aubrey Waggoner, Lubbock-Cooper: Plant Systems, Division 4 
• Daniella Burleson and Joshua Saleen, James Madison: Power, Structural, and Technical Systems, Division 4
• Lauren Akers and Darbey Havens, Abernathy: Social Systems, Division 3 

Career Development Events: Continuing a Tradition of Excellence

As a state, Texas boasted another strong showing in Louisville, capturing two national career development event titles, and one national runner-up title. Texans also turned in 11 top-five finishes as well this year. 15 of the state’s 24 entries finished in the top ten (63%). 

Since 1928, 82 Texas entries have claimed national championships. Only California has won more national titles, with 100. Seven states have never won a national FFA career development event in that time span.

National CDE’s —Texas Top 10
• National Champion: Agricultural Issues Forum: Madisonville
• National Champion: Meats Evaluation: East Central
• National Runner-Up: Food Science and Technology: Florence

Other top 10 finishes by Texas entries:
3rd Agricultural Communications, James Madison
3rd Agricultural Sales: Smithson Valley
3rd Environmental and Natural Resources, Rusk 
3rd Extemporaneous Public Speaking, Gail
3th Prepared Public Speaking, Lindale
3rd Milk Quality and Products, La Vernia
4th Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems, Sandra Day O’Connor
5th Poultry, Gilmer
8th Horse Evaluation, Marion
8th Livestock Evaluation, Spearman
7th Farm Business Management, Midlothian
9th Floriculture, Stephenville 
9th Floriculture, Katy-James Taylor

Duo of Texans Claim Proficiency Awards

Texans won two national proficiency awards in Louisville. 22 Texans were onstage as national finalists. Taylor Swinson of Sulphur Springs was the national winner of the Animal Systems-Agriscience Research Award. Cole Hudson of Ponder was the winner of the Beef Production – Placement Proficiency Award.   

FFA Proficiency Awards recognize achievement in student supervised agricultural experience programs, individualized hands-on career experiences which are an integral part of the agricultural education teaching model.

Historically, Texans haven’t fared as well in proficiency award competition, but in the last five years have surged as Texas teachers engage in the process and learn to navigate the national application and selection process. This year Texans broke the state record for the most National Proficiency finalists with a high of 22. 

Texas ranked second in the total number of national finalists behind Ohio. Only 20 of the nation’s 52 state FFA associations had national winners.

Stars are Bright in Texas National Chapter Awards

Texas posted its best overall showing in the National Chapter Award, with a record 18 chapters earning three-star ratings in the three-tiered rating system that evaluates a chapter's program of activities execution. 

Texas chapters haven't established themselves as strong contenders in this national award program as is the case in other award areas. The Weimar Chapter was on the national stage as a Models of Innovation Finalist, and while it isn't first national finalist from the Lone Star State, it breaks a multi-year hiatus. 

Finalists for Models of Innovation and Models of Excellence are selected from the pool of three-star rated chapters in one of three POA categories: student development, chapter development and community development. 

National Chapter Award applications are evaluated by a state committee in June, with gold-rated applicants advancing to national judging held in late July and early August. 
Texas Takes Top Four in National Invitational FFA Quiz Contest 

Grapeland topped the senior division of the National FFA Invitational Quiz Contest held in conjunction with the National FFA Convention and Expo. Jourdanton was runner-up in the contest. Decatur finished third in the contest, and the team from Throckmorton was fourth. Texans claimed the top 5 individual rankings as well: Michael Cross of Decatur was 1st, Kathryn Klumb of Jourdanton was 2nd, Victoria Martin of Grapeland was 3rd, Monica Davila of Grapeland was 4th, and Kloe Burris of Jourdanton was 5th. 

The invitational quiz contest is open to all chapters and states and since 1980’s, has been held during convention week in or near the national convention host city. Chapters from 12 states participated in the senior division. Chapters from 16 states competed in the junior division which was won by Troy, Missouri, and Grapeland’s junior team finished third.  

Sealy Livestock Team is “Royalty” in Kansas City   

The Sealy livestock was crowned as champions of the 115th American Royal Livestock Judging Contest late last month.  Sealy placed three of its members in the contest's top ten with Clayton Schram earning high-point individual honors. Indiana was runner-up in the competition.

The national judging competition was held during same week as the National FFA Convention and Expo. Sealy, qualified for the national competition by placing third in the Texas competition in May. The state runner-up in the Livestock CDE has the opportunity to choose between competing in Kansas City or at the National Western in Denver. The third-place team is certified for the remaining contest berth.
Texans Make History at the Novice Parliamentary Procedure Contest

A total of 35 teams entered the Novice Parliamentary Procedure Event this year. The team from Sandra Day O'Connor, a little chapter from the Great State of Texas was named The Reserve National Team in this year’s 2014 event. This is the first team from Texas to participate in this event in its three-year history.

The Sandra Day O’Connor team also won the award for the best over-all exam score. Two of the members had perfect exam scores and the team’s chair won the Best Over-All Chairperson Award.
Tradition of Success in Tractor Restoration

Chevron Products Company, a Chevron U.S.A. Inc. division, maker of the Delo® brand of technologically advanced engine oils, lubricants and coolants, today announced Cody Garrett as Grand Prize winner of the 2014 Delo Tractor Restoration Competition for his restoration of a 1962 Schafer Model 18000 tractor. The high school senior from Cuero, TX was selected for the $10,000 Grand Prize by a panel of expert judges following presentations by all twelve finalists at the 87th National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. This was Cody’s second trip to the national finals.
Matt Mahler of Iowa Park High School FFA in Iowa Park, TX took third place, and a $3,000 prize, for his restoration of a 1970 John Deere 4020. Matt placed in the top three in 2012, 2013 and now 2014.
With 17,486 votes, Cuero FFA from Cuero, TX was voted the winner of the Best Video competition. Each Cuero FFA team member received a tablet computer.

“Every year we are amazed by the accomplishments of each and every entrant,” said Dan Holdmeyer Chevron Lubricants Industrial Brand Manager. “This year is no exception. This is a great experience for these students. Our participants learn an incredible amount during the restoration and competition process. Thanks to their determination, hard work and perseverance, their communities are able to enjoy these restored pieces of American history. Chevron is also proud to support their hard work and craftsmanship with the Delo Tractor Restoration Competition.
“We’d like to congratulate Cody Garrett on being our 2014 Delo Tractor Restoration Competition Champion and acknowledge all our participants for their fine work.”
The finalists for the 2014 Delo Tractor Restoration Competition included:
• Cody Garrett, Cuero, TX: 1962 Schafer Model 18000 (Grand Prize Winner)
• Matt Mahler, Iowa Park, TX: 1970 John Deere 4020 (Third Prize Winner)
• Cuero FFA, Cuero, TX: 1968 Oliver 2150 (Best Video Winner with 17,486 votes)
• Southwest FFA, San Antonio, TX: 1958 Oliver 880 (Best Photograph)
• John Michael Grunseich, Bellevue, TX: 1971 John Deere 5020
• El Campo FFA, El Campo, TX: 1954 Farmall Cub
• Shane Kirts, Era, TX: 1967 Allis Chalmers 170
Since 1995 the Delo Tractor Restoration Competition has rewarded the determination, mechanical skills and business savvy of high school-aged tractor restoration experts from around the country. Through the restoration of an antique tractor, participants develop skills applicable to the modern business world. The skills needed for success in the program – equipment maintenance, teamwork, project management, budgeting, planning and marketing – help develop the participants into future leaders in the agriculture community.

Texans Receive Honorary American FFA Degrees

Eight Texas agricultural science teachers received the Honorary American FFA Degree at the 87th National FFA Convention. Tracey Blum of Howe, Rod Brinkman of Klein, Cody Lee Darby of Big Sandy, Rachelle Darby of Gilmer, Othela Ragland of Wills Point, Kevin Smith of Decatur, and Mary B. Wilson of Barbers Hill received the highest honorary degree bestowed by the National FFA Organization. Each year, a state may submit nominations not to exceed ten percent of the total number of teachers in the state.

Other Texans receiving the Honorary American Degree were Tom Acton of Katy, Dale Patterson of Tilden, Joel Rodgers of Amherst, Hon. Todd Staples of Austin. Also, receiving a VIP Award is Troy Selman of Huntsville.