MUSCATINE, Iowa–Though the end of the school year draws near, FFA contests remain in full swing. May 2, Muscatine FFA earned second place for an FFA team at the state Enviorthon, punching their ticket to national competition.
Unlike a typical FFA competition, both FFA teams and teams of students in Advanced Placement environmental science or other similar classes may compete. At the state level, teams complete a number of challenges, including written tests and hands-on identification of different items relating to aquatics, forestry, soils, and wildlife. Additionally, teams must make a presentation on a topic related to environmental science.
Working from their assigned prompt, Muscatine FFA students took on the role of a student council addressing questions about a composting program and increasing awareness of it. Team member Kaden Garrett, a senior, considered this part of the competition most enjoyable. “I liked the presentation–it was fun,” he said. “We had three judges who came in, and we got to do a skit in the middle.”
Outside of competition events, Muscatine FFA members got to meet likeminded students from many different schools. Senior Will Eichelberger found this chance to make new friends and network the best part of the Envirothon. “There were people from all over the state, and it was fun to see where they came from,” he remarked.
When the day’s results came out, Muscatine placed fourth overall and second for FFA teams. Each year, the top two FFA teams advance to national competition, with the top team choosing to enter either the Environmental and Natural Resources Contest or the Forestry Contest. Though the winning team does not have a deadline to select which contest they will choose, Muscatine FFA advisor Dave Tometich expects to hear from them which contest Muscatine will get in June. Muscatine FFA’s Envirothon students will join students on the Ag Sales Team at the National Convention this October.
Because both the Environmental and Natural Resources and Forestry Contests have similar foci, students can engage in general preparation and practice with some of the tools they may need to use in the hands-on portions even before they know which one they will compete in. When they travel to Indianapolis, Indiana for the national competition, they will also have some opportunities to practice their skills ahead of their final competition. With both contests centered around the natural world, Tometich knows the outdoorsy students on the Envirothon team will enjoy whichever one they get. “Both of them are outdoor competitions,” he emphasized: “One is geared more towards the forest and tree harvesting and one is more geared towards the animals. People who like the outdoors will like either.”
Always a difficult and highly competitive event, Tometich believed Muscatine FFA’s students put up a good showing at this year’s state Envirothon. He looks forward to their commitment and cooperation skills that will allow them to do well at the national competition as well. “I was extremely pleased with how they worked as a team,” he shared. “It’s an extremely challenging competition.”