MUSCATINE, Iowa–The week of Oct. 24, members of the Muscatine FFA ag sales, forestry, and meat evaluation teams traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana to compete at the National FFA Convention. An annual time for students from FFA chapters across the country to meet, explore shared interests and a big city, and to determine the national champions in numerous events, each of the Muscatine students who attended learned a lot from the experience.
Since the summer, members of the ag sales team have worked hard learning about and preparing to sell Purina cattle feed to the national judges. To help with their preparation, volunteers from KENT Corporation, Lee Agency, the River Valley Cooperative, and Terra Products came and offered advice to the students on how to develop their sales skills and what they would need to know about their product to impress the judges.
Overall, the team placed 15th out of 40 teams and earned a silver rating. Individually, Avery Schroeder placed 59th out of 160 contestants, Ella Schroeder placed 64th, Addison Weggen placed 90th, and Grace Williams placed 95th. Ella, a senior, felt good about how she did and valued the chance to get to know students from across the nation who shared her interests. “As an individual, I was very impressed with myself,” she said. “I enjoyed all of the people there–just meeting a variety of people and learning how they run there chapters is an interesting learning experience.”
In the forestry competition, students demonstrated their knowledge in numerous ways, such as by identifying trees, measuring them, responding to business scenarios, and offering suggestions for timber stand improvement. Junior Camden Furnas enjoyed this portion, which involved explaining which trees on a piece of land a farmer should keep, harvest, or remove for future productivity and why, the most. “That’s one where you can use your knowledge and not just go by the book,” he observed.
This year, the forestry team placed 28th nationally and earned a bronze rating, with Belinda Brain placing 19th individually and earning a gold rating, Camden Furnas placing 114th, Landon Castle placing 132nd, and William Eichelberger placing 153rd.
Along with the excitement of the competition, Camden liked getting to visit Indianapolis. “You get to get away and go to a pretty big city that has a lot of things and spend time with friends and make memories,” he shared.
In meat evaluation, students prepared by working with Bud’s Meat Locker, Hy-Vee, Iowa State University, Reasons Locker, and the University of Nebraska to perfect their knowledge of cuts of meat, quality and yield grades, and of different carcasses.
Their extensive practice paid off, as they earned a gold rating over all with Jenna Lovestad and Bob Carver earning gold ratings and Cory Shank and Kat Carver earning silver ratings. “I’m excited about how I’ve done,” said Jenna. “My efforts showed through, being a gold medalist and being on a gold medalist team.”
Bob also shared that the team used their time together, and the practical knowledge they had gained through preparing for meat evaluation to make a feast of their own. Together, they went to the store and purchased several steaks, butter, and seasoning to make a meal together back at the hotel.
An outing enjoyed by the students, many have plants to compete in additional contests this winter and spring. They look forward to the opportunity of traveling to the National FFA Convention again next October.