South Putnam FFA headed to state contest
By Sabrina Westfall
South Putnam Middle/High School had a dozen students place first in at least one category during the District VII FFA contest recently.
South Putnam Agriculture teacher Amanda King said several of those first place winners will be going to the state Leadership FFA contest with their speeches, to be interviewed and one student giving a sales presentation.
The students earning first place plaques included: Collin Berry and Zane Crosby, Natural Resource Management Demonstration; Emily Dobson, Horticulture and Landscape Management Demonstration; Zane Crosby, Leadership Ambassador; Collin Berry, Agriculture Sales Presentation; Casey Buis and Hannah Wyttenbach, Exhibit; Ryan Cole, Freshman Public Speaking; Jesse Robinson, Creed; Grace Carr and Garrett Heavin, Discovery Animal Science Demonstration; and McKenzie Clark, Helen Eaglin, Garrett Heavin and Audrey Neudeck, Discovery Quiz Bowl.
In addition, there were four students who received second place plaques and four students receiving third place plaques. Out of the 20 students who participated in the district competition from South Putnam, only two students did not place, which King noted were first time FFA members.
King outlined some of the specific projects that will be featured at the state contest, including a demonstration of how to dye a carnation; tanning hides using the brain of an animal; and selling a hog feeder. There will be students taking part in the leadership ambassador interview, an FFA trivia Quiz Bowl and middle school students will be participating in the discovery demonstration focusing on raising a steer and preparing it for a show.
There are 12 districts in Indiana, so the students will be up against at least 11 other students in their contest.
"We were really successful this year," King said. "We have been successful a lot (in the past) because of the time the kids are willing to put in and all the help we get. This is a small school, so the students are in a lot of other things ... and they still make time to do this."
She credited some of the help to the members of the community, noting often times when she puts out a request for help there are just as many adults as students helping to prepare for upcoming events.
King said in order for students to be eligible to participate in FFA, they must be enrolled in at least one agriculture class during the school year. These courses, she explained, allows for real world experience with agriculture.
Adjoined to King's classroom is a laboratory featuring plants and fish. She said the impressive collection of tilapia fish in the lab can get up to about 2,500 fish in various stages of life, up to requiring students to harvest them.
There are also plants growing in the lab the students must tend to, including zucchini, cacti, alfalfa and bluegrass.
King explained the students are in charge of feeding the fish, cleaning the lab area and maintaining the agricultural environment. For example, the tilapia must maintain a certain water temperature because cold temperatures can slow growth. Each month students check the size of the fish, and the bigger fish are moved to another tank to prevent 'bullying' among the fish.
The final phase of the fish tanks require the students to harvest the fish, at which point they use electric knives to fillet the fish. Each student is required to harvest at least one fish.
King said she has about 100 students in her agriculture classes and about 80 FFA students. She noted the FFA program has continued to grow recently, following her taking over the program three years ago.