From June 26-29, the FHS Future Farmers of America attended the Virginia FFA State Convention at Virginia Tech, where students participated in competitions ranging from floral design to agriculture mechanics. In addition to this, students were given individual awards and overall chapter awards. The Fauquier High School chapter was awarded a Silver Rating and is striving to do better next year, according to agriculture teacher Susan Hilleary. She said that their chapter received a Silver Rating because they did not write their goals in the correct format in the application. She added that the competition’s rigor took the students by surprise.
“The competition was hard,” Hilleary said. “I think a lot of them realized what they don’t know. For almost everyone, it was their first time doing this, so it’s a learning process.”
Junior Hannah Johnson competed in agriculture mechanics, where she had to take four written tests, make a working electrical system, weld, analyze a plot of land and build a structure to make it as flat as possible.
“It was my first year, so I wasn’t very [knowledgeable] with the tests and how well their welding machines were,” Johnson said. “I didn’t do that great, but I think did good for my first year. I learned that you don’t have to be great at something even if you know how to do it.”
Seniors Dylan Kezele and Ben Scaring were awarded state degrees, the highest award one can receive in high school: Kezele in aquaponics and Scaring in landscaping. In order to qualify for a state degree, students must create a Supervised Agricultural Experience, an agriculture-based project or job, where they spend 300 hours working on the project or earn $1,000 in their job in order to qualify. For his project, Kezele used fish waste in place of fertilizer, in order to test its efficiency and its ability to substitute for normal fertilizer. He said it was a relief to be recognized for his hard work after spending hours on the project.
“I used the waste that the fish produced to grow the plants without soil,” Kezele said. “The plants sat in a PVC pipe system, and the water that the fish lived in was filtered out from the pipe and ran through [to] the roots that pick up the nutrients in the water.”
Scaring has owned his own landscaping company for three years and used this as his project. He said it was a lot of fun meeting people from different FFA chapters around the state and getting to reconnect with members from previous years.
“[We] felt very accomplished to know that our chapter has done so much hard work and to succeed in getting the state degrees,” Scaring said.
In addition to building on their success in next year’s competition, Kezele,the chapter’s FFA president, said that he has other goals he wants to achieve in his last year with the organization.
“There are things called state proficiency awards, [which is] the best [project] for each section of agricultural,” Kezele said. “I’d like to win that for aquaculture.”
~erica gudino, editor-in-chief