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Offices and Services:
Congratulations to State FFA Awards Day Participants
Last weekend, the College of ACES and the Agricultural Education Program hosted 250 of the best and brightest Illinois FFA members for the state record book competition, otherwise known as the State FFA Awards Day. FFA advisors, parents, and volunteers evaluate students’ record books in more than 50 proficiency areas including topics that range from traditional livestock and agronomic enterprises to Agriscience research and sales/entrepreneurial projects. After reviewing the students’ record books, each FFA member is interviewed about their specific project. Following the evaluation process, the judges select the winner in each proficiency area.
Whether they are selected as top individual or simply have the opportunity to participate in the State FFA competition, it is a very rewarding to be part of this experience. For many students, competing as one of the top five individuals in their proficiency area is the culmination of two or three years of work related to a Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) program.
SAEs, along with many other FFA opportunities, are part of what make this organization so impactful for more than half a million students nationwide. An FFA member’s SAE is part of the “complete” experience as an FFA member; the other two components are the classroom/laboratory experience and FFA involvement through student, chapter, and community activities.
As I reflect on my years as a high school agriculture teacher, some of my most rewarding memories are when my students competed at the State FFA Awards Day. In a few cases, I was fortunate to see some of these students win their areas and compete on the national level.
Aside from the thrill of competition, it is important to understand there is a story behind every student’s SAE project – a story about their personal background and experiences, a story about their interests and passions, and a story about their future career and aspirations. Even more importantly, behind every FFA member’s story is a young adult who is learning about agriculture, learning the value of serving others, and learning more about themselves as an individual and a future leader.