Texas agriculture students shined in national competitions hosted by the National FFA Organization at the 89th Annual Convention and Expo in Indianapolis.
Texas FFA members dominated agriscience fair competition, made a solid showing in career development events which are an outgrowth of the agriculture, food and natural resources curriculum, shined in award competitions which are based on student supervised agricultural experience programs and made significant gains in chapter award competitions. Texas also exerted national leadership by fielding the largest state delegation, posting the largest membership gain for the seventh consecutive year and captured a spot on the national organization’s six-member student officer team.
“Intense competition at the state level usually produces students who can perform consistently at a high level on a national stage,” said Texas FFA Executive Director Tom Maynard. “The overall performance by our students is a credit to them their communities, families and teachers.”
Yoakum’s Trey Elizondo Elected Western Region Vice President
Trey Elizondo of Texas has been elected as 2016-17 Western Region Vice President.
The 20-year-old Yoakum native was announced as the national nominating committee’s choice for western region vice president in the waning moments of the 89th National FFA Convention’s final session and became the 30th Texan to serve as a national FFA officer, dating back 80 years, when another south Texan, Roy Martin of Cotulla became the first Texan national FFA officer in 1936. Elizondo is the first national officer from Texas since 2009, when Randa Braune of Bellville was elected to serve as one of the four regional vice presidents.
Texans Continue a Tradition Of Success in National Agriscience Fair
Texas members brought five national titles in the National FFA Agriscience Fair back to the Lone Star State, with ten of its 21 finalists finishing in the top three, 15 rated as gold, and six rated as silver in the four-tier rating system (gold, silver, bronze, and participant). Georgia led the way with seven national winners and Texas came in a close second with five national winners. Stephenville and San Antonio-James Madison each had two national winners and Florence had one.
Historically, Texas members have fared well in the national competition winning a new total of a record 77 Agriscience Fair national titles since the event’s inception in 1998. No state has ever won more national agriscience fair championships than Texas.
• Olivia Wise-Dent and Kamryn Nichols, James Madison: Animal Systems, Division 4
• Mikaela Loerwald and Shane Hilton, Florence: Food Products and Processing, Division 3
• Bonnie McKinzie, Stephenville: Social Systems, Division 1
• Luke Webber, Stephenville: Social Systems, Division 2
• Kaylee Graham and Sydney Martin, James Madison: Social Systems, Division 3
• Katherine Marie Fazzino, Rudder: Environmental Services/Natural Resources, Division 2
• Micah Rainey and Riley McKinzie, Stephenville: Power, Structural and Technical Systems, Division 4
Bullard FFA Named Model of Innovation Winner
Bullard FFA was named as the nation’s top entry in the National Chapter Award Models of Innovation Recognition. The nation’s top 10 three-star chapters in the student development division competed for the award. Top chapters were also selected from the middle school, student and community development divisions.
Bullard FFA knew changes were being made in the school cafeteria, so the chapter decided to research the student body’s food choices and then share that information with cafeteria personnel. After conducting 537 surveys, the chapter found that an average of 64.7 pounds of fruits and vegetables were wasted every day at the cafeteria. Responding to the survey’s results, the school made seven immediate changes to the lunch menu, including the addition of salads to the daily selection, removing three poorly reviewed entrees, and providing fruits and vegetables that better reflected student requests. The “Feast or Famine: Healthy Eating in Today’s School Cafeteria” project is expected to reduce the cafeteria’s yearly waste by over $20,000.
Austin-Lanier FFA was also a finalist in the Models of Innovation Student Development Division and Weimar FFA was a national finalist in the Community Development Division.
The Models of Innovation awards are sponsored by John Deere as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. It is one of the many ways FFA members accomplish the FFA mission and succeed in making a difference in their communities and the lives of others.
Stars Are Bright in Texas National Chapter Awards
Texas posted a solid overall showing in the National Chapter Award, with 12 chapters earning three-star ratings in the three-tiered rating system that evaluates a chapter's program of activities execution. Nine chapters earned a two star designation.
Over the past few years, Texas chapters have begun to establish themselves as strong contenders in this national award program. 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.
The National Chapter Award is a function of the chapter’s Program of Activities, a one-year annual strategic action plan which creates a roadmap for a hands-on leadership development experience which engages all members in the chapter’s work and leverages the latent potential which exists in all members.
Texans Turn in Solid Career Development Event Performances
As a state, Texas boasted another solid showing in national career development events in Indianapolis, and while only one Texas entry captured a national championship, eight finished as national runner-up.
Altogether, Texans turned in 12 top-five finishes this year out of the state’s 25 entries, which is 48% of total entries. Fourteen of the state’s 25 entries (56%) finished in the top ten, and 15 (60%) were rated as gold in the National FFA Organization’s three-tier, gold-silver-bronze, rating system. No Texas team finished as a bronze entry.
Since 1928, 87 Texas entries have claimed national championships. Only California has won more national titles. Six states have never won a national FFA career development event in that time span.
National CDE - Texas Top 10
• National Champion: Poultry Evaluation, Ridge Point
• National Runner-Up: Agricultural Issues Forum, Canyon
• National Runner-Up: Ag. Technology & Mechanical Systems, Sandra Day O’Connor
• National Runner-Up: Food Science & Technology, Florence
• National Runner-Up: Horse Evaluation, Smithson Valley
• National Runner-Up: Marketing Plan, Madisonville
• National Runner-Up: Milk Quality Products, Klondike
• National Runner-Up: Prepared Public Speaking, Madisonville
• National Runner-Up: Veterinary Science, Byron Nelson
Other Top 10 Finishes By Texas Entries
• 3rd - Agricultural Sales, Sandra Day O’Connor
• 4th - Meats Evaluation, Florence
• 4th - Conduct of Chapter Meetings, Bellville
• 9th - Nursery/Landscape, Marble Falls
• 10th - Job Interview, Pearland
Texas Recognized for Top Membership Growth for Seventh 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 6,836 between membership year 2014-15 and 2015-16 and became the first state association in FFA history to surpass 115,000 in total membership. The Texas membership surge accounted for 38% of the National FFA Organization’s 18,137-student membership growth. Texas FFA has grown by 41,569 members since 2009, due in part to a revision in the membership business model. 2016 marks the seventh consecutive year that Texas has recorded the top membership gain.
Tradition of Success in Tractor Restoration
Texans expect to win the Chevron-Delo National Tractor Restoration Competition, and why not? A Texas entry has been national grand prize winner in four of the previous five years and seven of the previous ten years. Texas has dominated the event since its inception in 1997, and in 2016 Texas entries captured seven of the 12 national finalist positions.
Carson Rose of El Campo was the top Texas entry in 2016, finishing third overall. His entry, which focused on the restoration of a 1955 John Deere 50, also won the best photograph contest.
The competition requires an individual or a team to fully document the restoration of a tractor in an application that is typically about 40-50 pages in length and submitted in August. Finalists deliver a 20-minute presentation, followed by a 20-minute rigorous question and answer session from a panel of experts.
Teachers use this event to support the agricultural power and machinery curriculum as a capstone project, and students who compete in it frequently also compete in the tractor technician career development event.
Carson was awarded a $3,000 prize for his third-place finish. Ryder Merta, also of El Campo FFA, won the video portion of the contest, which can be viewed here: http://tinyurl.com/jmpbv3c
2016 Texas Delo Tractor Restoration Finalist
• Carson Rose, El Campo: 1955 John Deere 50
• Leo Davila, Dubiski Career High: 1966 John Deere 3020
• Matthew Machicek, Rogers: 1966 Oliver 1550 LPG
• Parker Goebel, Cuero: 1979 International Harvester 886
• Ryan Ullom, Rockwall: 1947 Farmall B
• Ryder Merta, El Campo: 1924 Holt M-35 (2-Ton) Crawler
• Corey Verstraeten, Southwest FFA: 1971 Oliver 1855
Five Texans Claim Proficiency Awards
Texas won five national proficiency awards in Indianapolis, tying the state’s all-time high mark for proficiency winners in a single year, which was set a year ago in Louisville. Eleven Texans were named a national proficiency award finalists.
• Rhett Bain of Canyon, Agricultural Services - Entrepreneurship Award
• Kaine Warnken of Schulenburg, Beef Production - Placement Proficiency Award
• Clay Burkham of Canyon, Home and/or Community Development Proficiency Award
• Taylor Price of Pilot Point, Outdoor Recreation - Entrepreneurship/Placement Proficiency Award
• Taylor Williams of Dawson, Small Animal Production and Care - Entrepreneurship/Placement Proficiency Award
Texans have enjoyed newfound success in the proficiency award process as Texas teachers improve record keeping practices, engage in the award process and learn to navigate the national application and selection process. In 1999, Texas failed to crack the finals with any proficiency award applications, but has steadily improved and become a factor in the process. 2010 was the last year in which Texas failed to win at least one proficiency award. 2014 was the state’s high-water mark for national finalists, when 22 Texans cracked the final four.
Texas ranked seventh in the total number of national finalists, but tied for second for the number of national winners. Only 18 of the nation’s 52 state FFA associations had at least one national winner, and only ten of the 52 state associations had multiple winners.
Texans Receive Honorary American FFA Degrees
Nine Texas agricultural science teachers received the Honorary American FFA Degree at the 89th National FFA Convention. Ken Abney of Hardin-Jefferson, Rebecca Brummond of Magnolia, Karen Eaves of Hamshire, Tonny Hamby of Canadian, Elizabeth Holster Green of Silsbee, Cheryl Lynn Kinney of Wills Point, Raymond Ramirez of Alice, Michael Daniel Teague of Saltillo and John C. VanDevender of Buna received the highest honorary degree bestowed by the National FFA Organization.
Other Texans receiving the Honorary American Degree were CyLynn Braswell of Justin, Mike M. Jarrar of Houston, Teresa Jimenez of Houston, Lisa Walker of Sunnyvale, and Clay Ewell of College Station.
Maynard Named By NASAE as Nation’s Outstanding State FFA Executive
Tom Maynard, of Austin, was named as the nation's outstanding state FFA executive by the National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education at the organization's annual conference and meeting held in conjunction with the 89th National FFA Convention and Expo.
NASAE is the professional organization which represents state-level agricultural education staff, who provide leadership for instructional programs, state FFA associations and foundations. The organization has been presenting outstanding member awards since 1979, but Maynard is the first Texan to win such recognition.
Maynard also served as president of the association in 2015-16. He is the third Texan to serve as president of the national organization, preceded by G.G. Scroggins who led NASAE in 1978-79 and Jay Eudy who served as president in 1989-90.
Maynard is credited with creating policy systems and business models which enabled the Texas FFA Association to more than double its membership during his tenure. He also created numerous new programs, put the organization on the forefront of technology adoption and worked to put the association on sound financial footing.
Maynard announced his retirement from FFA this year to pursue greater involvement in public service. He currently represents citizens in 18 central Texas counties as a member of the State Board of Education.
Click here for additional Texas FFA result statistics from the 89th Annual National FFA Convention.