National convention

Medora FFA takes part in the first soil assessment competition and is soon heading towards the national convention

MEDORA – Nine students from Medora High School now know more about the floor than they ever thought.

On September 28 at the Purdue Southeast Agricultural Center in Butlerville, Medora FFA experienced a first: participating in the region’s soil assessment competition.

Since the inception of the school chapter in early 2018, members had attended district meetings, attended district contests, camped at the Indiana FFA Leadership Center, celebrated FFA National Week, participated in leadership competitions, participated in the Jackson County Fair. and attended FFA state and national conventions.

Sharing their knowledge of the soil, however, was new territory.

Considering this, councilor Adam Conklin was impressed to see the teams place seventh, 10th and 12th out of 24 scoring teams from 12 different schools.

“They did an amazing job on their first outing,” said Conklin, who started at Medora after spring break for the 2020-21 school year.

“They were getting nervous right before the contest started, but I told them to trust what they learned and have fun with it,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of how they’ve competed with schools that have been doing it for years. As well as applying the things they learned in class, I think they were impressed and saw how their time and effort paid off.

Conklin said the competition was a great opportunity to get students active early in the school year.

“The most active FFA chapters take part in the evaluation of soils. Combine that with being a strong point for me as an agriculture teacher, it was definitely something I wanted to push, ”he said.

“Soils are the foundation of everything about agriculture, so I think it’s essential to start with that first,” he said. “We covered this in depth in class and the competition got them out of school for a day, going to a real farm and applying their lessons to the real world. I think they even had a great time.

In the two weeks leading up to the competition, Conklin helped students prepare in a variety of ways.

Sophomore Wyatt Combs said they practiced a lot with floor maps, and her classmate Brooklyn Wilkerson said Conklin drew pictures to help them learn. They were joined by Aaralyn Hackney in the squad that placed seventh which was one place away from qualifying for the state competition.

“Sir. Conklin did a really good job teaching us. That’s a big part of why we’ve been so successful,” Combs said.

“He certainly deserves all the credit,” added Wilkerson.

Even with practice, the students said that regarding the day of the event, it was a lot to take in as it was a new environment.

“It was scary. There were a lot of people there, ”Wilkerson said.

“I would say it’s nerve-racking as well,” said second student Jordan Starr, who was on the team in 10th place with Izzy Doyle and Isaiah Miller.

Each student in teams of three school members was divided into separate groups. Then their scores were combined to give them a team ranking.

“They judge us on how we know the rules and how we can identify the ground,” Combs said.

“Usually the topsoil is brown, and you decide if it’s poor soil development, it’s usually a different thing than it usually is,” Wilkerson said.

“Gray in the ground some inches away, poor drainage, you have to lay it down,” Starr said.

“If it’s clay or sand or just average soil, you need to check the slope of the hill and what kind of terrain it is,” Combs said, noting that this determines whether it is suitable for building a house or for planting.

The students were happy to see the Medora Chapter exceed expectations. The third and final team, which placed 12th, consisted of Damien Jones, Haylee Sons and Brayden Hedrick.

“For our first time, we did a lot better than expected,” Combs said.

Starr agreed.

“I think we did a lot better than everyone expected,” he said.

Next, Medora FFA members will attend the 94th FFA National Convention and Exhibition, which will take place October 27-30 in Indianapolis.

“At the moment, they are still familiarizing themselves with what FFA is and the vast opportunities that come with it,” said Conklin. “At the convention, they will have a much better vision of the whole of which they are a part. They can meet students from across the country, chat with college representatives, learn about new agricultural technologies, and more.

After that, Conklin said the chapter may sell fresh fruit from Florida later this fall, as it is an ongoing FFA fundraiser.

The spring semester will focus on the various leadership development competitions at the district convention and preparing for the spring plant sale. Last spring, Conklin said the huge success in selling plants helped them invest more in the school’s Grow Lab.