Days of frigid temperatures, snow, sleet, and then topped off with periods of heavy rain did not stop Berks County FFA students from competing and enjoying the events at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, and winning first and fifth place individual awards.
Kutztown Area High School won fourth place for Agriculture Education Exhibits.
According to its website, the Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in America with 24 acres under roof and spread throughout 11 buildings including three arenas.
“It’s just such a unique environment with an indoor fair. You don’t find that anywhere else,” said Cindy Hooks, attendee, as she meandered through the various FFA exhibits.
Some of the FFA students from Kutztown took advantage of some free time to enjoy the horse shows including a rodeo, but for Kayla Fusselman and Kristy Heffner, they still had an awards ceremony to attend for the Agriculture Conservation Careers and Technology.
“It’s a video contest on conservation,” said Fusselman, who had retired her position as FFA President and handed the position over to Heffner.
“We worked with the Berks Conservancy and the Berks County Conservation District,” said Heffner.
Fusselman said that three years ago the Farm Show asked for chapters to participate so for the past three years, the Kutztown FFA Chapter has been accepted to enter a video and participate for the participation award check ceremonies. There are different themes each year.
Dennis Larison, editor and speaker for the main sponsor for the FFA Video Contest, Lancaster Farming, said he especially like the conservation theme this year.
“I think it’s a very timely theme. The theme reflects how important these efforts to try to turn around pollution in the Chesapeake Bay have become,” said Larison.
Larison said Denise Coleman, state conservationist USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services, made a preliminary announcement at the Farm Show about the results of a study that the Agricultural Research Services was doing on farmer’s efforts in cleaning up Chesapeake Bay. He said they knew the farmers were doing a lot more by themselves and the study would show that. According to Larison, since the Depression there’s been a concerned effort by farmers to try to reduce the runoff in the streams.
Larison also said because of the exodus from farming over several generations, the generational memory of what farming was like has disappeared. Farmers now have to educate the general public about what they’re doing and the FFA student’s efforts have dovetailed into that. They have to be able to explain to the public what they are doing. Noting that the videos did not have high hit numbers for viewing on the website, he encouraged the students to continue their efforts in getting their message out there.
“Not only are you showing the efforts that farmers are making, but you’re also taking the first steps that you’ll probably use throughout your agricultural careers in trying to inform everyone else what farming is doing,” said Larison.
“The video is tied to a large conservation project the kids did in the fall. We coordinated with the Berks County Conservation District and the Conservancy to do Stream Bank Preservation and Riparian Zone Reclamation on a local farm,” said Celeste Ball, advisor.
In addition to the conservation video, Fusselman and Heffner entered the Agriculture Education Exhibit with a board demonstrating the Riparian Zone on a farm. The entry earned a fourth place award.
Ball said the video shows how everything flows and fits together making it a great educational process and FFA and agriculture education learning opportunity tying the whole agriculture community into everything. It is why they do what they do.
To view the videos, go to http://www.lancasterfarming.com/video/FFA-2014/.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, George Greig, and Lancaster Farming Editor, Dennis Larison, presented an $800 participation award in the Agriculture Conservation Careers and Technology to Kayla Fusselman, former FFA president, and Kristy Heffner, current FFA president, for their work with the Berks County Conservation District and the Conservancy to do Stream Bank Preservation and Riparian Zone Reclamation on a local farm.
Kutztown High School FFA Awards:
Living wreath for a table using succulent plants only. No flowering plants. No oasis or foam base. 12 inches maximum frame size. Use live rooted plants.
Second Place – Kayla Keller
Third Place – Kody Reichert
Fourth Place – Jamie Seifert
Fifth Place – Justin Fairchild
Dish Garden. Foilage only. 12-inch diameter, 15-inch height. No baskets or accessories
Third Place – Kody Reichert
Fifth Place – Jacob Fairchild
Miniature Landscape Design. Landscape display incorporating the backyard of the house
Fifth Place – Hunter Meas
Boxwood (only) tree. Florist foam base decorated to depict Christmas tree
First Place – Gabe Yeager
Second Place – Lydia Seip
Third Place – Jacob Fairchild
Fifth Place – Meas Hunter
Agriculture Education Exhibits
Fourth Place – Kutztown Area High School
The Keystone Degree is the highest FFA Degree that a member can receive from the Pennsylvania FFA Association. It is based on academic achievement, leadership and chapter involvement, community service and completion of an SAE with a minimum of 300 hours or $1,000 earned or invested in the project. Kayla Fusselman, retired FFA president, received her Keystone at the Farm Show during the FFA Midwinter Convention.
Additional members received a complimentary FFA Jacket valued at $55 from the PA FFA Alumni Association. These FFA members competed in a contest where they had to write an essay on what the FFA jacket means to them. The following Kutztown FFA members received a jacket: Ayla Blatt, Rachel Fegely, Danielle Kauffman, Keri Laudenslager, Brittan Manwiller, Lydia Seip, and Casandra Wentz.