by Kate Evans
Four Berkeley Springs High School Future Farmers of America (FFA) members attended the July 6-9 West Virginia Future Farmers of America convention and participated as delegates.
Three of the FFA members-upcoming sophomores Grant Michael and Ashley Crone and upcoming senior Clara Steiner-competed in the State Land Judging competition. They had previously competed at the regional level.
High school senior Serenity McGowan, who graduated in May, received her State FFA degree at the convention, said FFA advisor and agriculture education teacher Dave Aberegg, who traveled to the convention with the students.
Aberegg said that the State Land Judging competition consists of two contests-a homesite evaluation and a land judging. Four pits are dug. Kids evaluate the ground for criteria that include soil texture, depth of soil, internal drainage, slope and surface runoff. They classify the land from 1-8 and note what it can be used for agriculturally.
Members also evaluate the land for a home site for a home foundation, septic system, pond, lawn and garden using similar criteria. The scores for both contests are combined in the Land Judging competition and is how teams are ranked, Aberegg said.
There are seven FFA regions and each region sends two chapters to the Land Judging competition, he said. The Berkeley Springs High School club hadn’t participated in the Land Judging competition in two years since it hadn’t occurred because of COVID.
Aberegg said there are multiple levels of Future Farmers of America degrees that members can achieve. The Green Hand Degree is the entry level degree, followed by the chapter degree, state degree and American degree. Serenity McGowan was awarded her State FFA degree at the convention.
The degrees involve having leadership abilities, learning the FFA creed and emblem, the FFA code of ethics, FFA history, operating a supervised agricultural experience, meeting FFA membership requirements and completing research and placement projects and community service.
Other convention activities
Michael, Crone, Steiner and McGowan attended the convention as official delegates for their Future Farmers of America chapter, Aberegg said. All voted for the new Future Farmers of America state officers.
The students also got to see other state FFA contest finals that took place at the convention which included parliamentary procedures, public speaking, creed and tractor safety, he said. At the convention they also heard guest speakers and met other delegates and state FFA officers.
Aberegg said that any Berkeley Springs High School student that takes any of his agricultural education classes is considered a member of their Future Farmers of America local chapter. Aberegg had between 111-115 kids that took his classes last year without repeats of two classes. Not all of these students actively participate in the FFA club by coming to meetings and doing activities.
Aberegg said that FFA club members learn leadership skills, public speaking skills and parliamentary procedures so they can get involved in their community. They also compete in contests and meet other state FFA members.
In 1988 the Future Farmers of America (FFA) changed their name to the National FFA Organization to include kids that didn’t live in rural areas that were involved in agricultural activities or pursuits like wanting to become a veterinarian, Aberegg said. It is now known as FFA.
The FFA mission is to develop potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Aberegg noted that he has a couple of students that want to attend West Virginia University and pursue teaching degrees in agricultural education.