The new agriculture instructor at Payson High School, David Rutherford, has something to crow about — his students.
“We just finished Mid Winter Northern Districts (competition) and had an incredibly successful showing,” he said. “Payson had 61 students that competed over the two days — some both days.”
The Mid Winter Northern Districts competition is comprised of 10 schools in the northern part of Arizona, from Monument Valley High School in Kayenta to Payson, the school farthest to the south.
During the competition, FFA students compete in numerous Career Development Events (CDEs) from sales, to food science, wildlife, marketing, to vet work. The competition even includes a job interview category.
The CDEs determine which teams move on to the State Mid Winter Competition Dec. 6 at ASU Polytechnic.
The District Competition was held at Winslow High School on Dec. 15 and 16.
“I’m not sure how many were there, but Payson brought approximately 40 percent of all the students at the competition,” said Rutherford.
Rutherford said all students had to take a tough 50-question, online test prior to arriving at Districts and the test scores are 25 percent of the students’ total score.
Students competing in sales had to work as a team to create a sales and marketing plan for an agricultural product, then present to a customer to hopefully sell their product. All students sold the same product and three teams competed.
Food science students had to work as a team to develop product packaging for a new food product.
“In this competition they worked with flavored milk,” said Rutherford.
The food science competitors had to present to a panel of judges. Their presentation included sensory evaluations of taste and aromas and they viewed pictures of situations where workers were not following proper food safety guidelines.
Wildlife students needed to identify wildlife/plants/fish found in Arizona according to skulls, tracks, pictures or pelts. Students were also expected to perform compass and pacing skills, map reading and GPS.
Five teams competed in the Wildlife category.
Marketing students worked with the professionals at Plant Fair Nursery to create a marketing plan for their pottery department at the nursery.
Students had to analyze the market, determine possible marketing strategies and present a plan that a business owner could implement. Two teams participated in the marketing competition.
Vet students had to work as a team to show how to perform a feline wellness checkup. They also did individual aspects such as folding a surgical gown, surgical tool identification, breed and parasite identification.
Seven teams competed in the vet category.
Information is much like a game show with students up on the stage asked questions about the history and general knowledge of FFA. When a student misses two questions they are out. Twenty students participated in the information competition.
In the job interview competition, students create a cover letter and resumé along with filling out an online application.
Students then do a telephone appointment, actual interview, and a follow up letter. Twelve students competed.
Students who do well in competition will move on to compete in June at the State Leadership Competition.
Ag department fund-raiser
The Payson High School Agricultural Department has purchased 50 wreaths from a past student who lives in Montana and has a wreath-making business.
The chapter is selling these as a fund-raiser to cover costs for state competitions and local events. Wreaths sell for $30 and are available from students or e-mail David Rutherford at email@example.com to make arrangements.
Parents and community members interested in helping judge or assist at the Spring District competition held Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at Snowflake High School can contact Rutherford for more information.
Competitions include horse judging, livestock judging, Ag mechanics, forestry, prepared and extemporaneous speaking, and issues and conduct of meeting.
“I am expecting at least two teams in each category if things continue the way they are,” said Rutherford.
Credit for Kids donations
Meals, registration fees, busing, practice materials all are expensive for the PHS Agricultural Department.
“With so many students competing in so many things, it’s eating up the budget very quickly,” said Rutherford. He also said the department desperately needs FFA jackets for students to compete in.
They are $50 each not counting another $15 for the tie and shipping.
“We have students that cannot afford a jacket so we are trying to borrow or do what we can to spread them around,” said Rutherford. “We lost points at Districts (competition) because we don’t have enough official dress (uniforms). We are growing faster than I can keep up!”