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By: Texas FFA News
December 15, 2017

Texas agricultural education programs and students shined in national competitions hosted by the National FFA Organization at the 90th National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis, IN. 

Texas FFA members represented the Lone Star state exceptionally well in the agriscience fair competition, make a solid showing in leadership and career development events, shined in award competitions based upon a student’s supervised agricultural experience programs and made gains in chapter award competitions. Texas also exerted national leadership by fielding the largest state delegation and posting the largest membership gain for the eighth consecutive year. 

Intense competition at the state level helps to produce students who can compete at a consistently high level on the national stage. The tremendous success and performance of our students is a credit to their communities, families and teachers.
Agriscience Fair
Texas members brought seven national titles in the National FFA Agriscience Fair back to Texas, with 17 of the 29 finalists finishing in the top three, 23 rated as gold, five rated as silver and one rated as bronze in the four-tier rating system (gold, silver, bronze and participation). Georgia led the way with eight national winners and Texas came in a close second with seven. Stephenville had two national winners while Florence, Krum, James Madison, Rudder and Smithson Valley all had one. 

Historically, Texas members have fared well in the national competition winning a new total of a record 84 Agriscience Fair national titles since the event’s inception in 1998. No state has ever won more national agriscience fair championships than Texas.

National Champions
Channing Pieniazek and Kyle Real, Krum; Animal Systems, Division 2
Kailee Hilton and Braeden Fisher, Florence; Food Products and Processing Systems, Division 2
Conielia San Diego and Josephine Fischer, James Madison; Food Products and Processing Systems, Division 6
Katherine Marie Fazzino, Rudder; Plant Systems, Division 5
Barrett Kerr, Smithson Valley; Social Science, Division 3
Bonnie McKinzie and Rette Peters, Stephenville; Social Science, Division 4
Luke Weber and Riley McKinzie, Stephenville; Social Science, Division 6

National Runner-Up
Jacob Bagby and Reese Wilson, Stephenville; Animal Systems, Division 4
Aiden Prater and Erik Siebold, Bandera; Environmental Services and Natural Resource Systems, Division 2
Hope Ham and Clair Daniel, Lubbock-Cooper; Plant Systems, Division 4
Brianna Parker, Gilmer; Power, Structural and Technical Systems, Division 5
Career and Leadership Development Events
As a state, Texas boasted a solid showing in national career and leadership development events. Altogether, Texas turned in ten top-five finishes this year out of the state’s 25 entries. Fourteen of the state’s 25 entries finished in the top ten, and 16 were rated as gold in the National FFA Organization’s three-tier rating system.

Since 1928, 89 Texas entries have claimed national championships. Only California has won more national titles. Six states have never won a national FFA career or leadership development event in that time span.

National Champions
Agricultural Sales, Bellville
Meats Evaluation & Technology, East Central

National Runner-Up
Agricultural Issues Forum, Madisonville
Marketing Plan, Madisonville
Poultry Evaluation, Sandra Day O’Connor

Other Top 10 Finishes
3rd – Employment Skills, Stephenville
3rd – Livestock Evaluation, Fredericksburg
3rd – Nursery/Landscape, Bellville
4th – Agricultural Communications, James Madison
4th – Prepared Public Speaking, Stephenville
6th – Veterinary Science, Canyon New Braunfels
7th – Floriculture, Stephenville
9th – Agricultural, Technology and Mech Systems, Sandra Day O’Connor
10th – Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Management, Tomball Memorial

Membership Growth
The Texas FFA Association was recognized for the nation’s top membership growth for the eighth consecutive year. The Texas FFA grew by more than 4,000 members between 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 and became the first state association in history to surpass 119,000 members.
National Chapter Awards
Texas posted a solid overall showing in the National Chapter Award program, with 8 chapters earning three-star ratings in the three-tiered rating system that evaluates a chapter’s program of activities execution. Ten chapters earned a two-star designation, and no Texas entries were rated as one-star.

This year, Texas also boasted a Premier Chapter finalists in the area of Growing Leaders. The Weimar FFA Chapter was selected as a finalist for their “Grow and Inch” activity. The Premier Chapter award finalists are the top 10 chapters in each division of the program of activities (growing leaders, building communities, strengthening agriculture). 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 applications 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 plan which creates a roadmap for a hands-on leadership development experience which engages all members in the chapter’s work and leverages the potential which exists in all members. 
Star and Proficiency Awards
Bailey Wilson of Pilot Point was named as a finalist in the National FFA Organization’s Stars Over America program. Wilson, a graduate of the Pilot Point FFA Chapter, was one of four finalists in the American Star in Agricultural Placement contest. The Stars Over America program seeks to recognize those students with incredible supervised agricultural experience programs. 

Texas also won three national proficiency awards in Indianapolis. Nine Texans were named finalists in a national proficiency award this year.

National Champions

Bryce Cline of Stephenville, Agricultural Mechanics Design and Fabrication
Charlie Hoppe of Cedar Park, Agricultural Services
Demi West of Gilmer, Equine Science - Entrepreneurship

Proficiency awards seek to recognize those FFA members with outstanding supervised agricultural experience programs. Applications are evaluated based on student records, as well as knowledge and skill attainment through their project. Texas tied for seventh in the total number of national finalists, but tied for third in the total number of national winners from a state. 25 of the nation’s 52 state FFA associations had at least one national winner and only ten had multiple winners.

Tractor Restoration
Texans swept the competition in the 2017 Chevron-Delo National Tractor Restoration Competition. The competition requires an individual or team to fully document the restoration of a tractor in an application that is typically 40-50 pages in length and submitted in late August. While the event is not sanctioned by the National FFA Organization, it is held in conjunction with the National FFA Convention & Expo. Congratulations to the following Texas students and teams:

Corey Verstraeten, Southwest FFA – Grand Champion
Matthew Machicek, Rogers FFA – Reserve Champion
Austin Reynolds, Snyder FFA – Third Place
Marcus Wagner and Cameron Coyle, Dubiski Career FFA – Best Presentation
Ryder Merta, El Campo FFA – Best Photo and Video
Dillon Bradbury, Dubiski Career High FFA – Advisor of the Year