Written by Madison Hall, Atwater FFA Reporter
Forty-four Atwater High School agriculture students filled a charter bus and joined a record 1400+ high school students throughout central and northern California at the Arbuckle FFA Field Day on February 7th. The FFA Field Day marks the beginning of the FFA judging season where thousands of students throughout California compete in various agriculture skill contests. Contests are held at major community colleges and universities up and down the state of California.
The Atwater FFA Milk Quality and Dairy Foods team earned a 1st place overall team finish as they demonstrated their knowledge and skills in milk quality (tasting), cheese identification, real vs imitation dairy foods, and a written exam on the dairy industry. “We have a young, enthusiastic, and dedicated team that is developing their skills for future success,” said coach and FFA advisor Dave Gossman. Shoua Thao (1st overall), Christina Aguilar (2nd overall), Dayana Ceja (3rd overall), Julie Dailey (6th overall), Cynthia Griffin (7th overall), Jessica Prado (9th overall) placed in the top ten individually. Other participants included Avery Smith and Cesar Perez.
The Atwater FFA Land team earned a 2nd place team finish composed of team members Joseph Kamesch (4th overall), Gabby England (5th overall), Juan Hurtado (6th overall), and Amber Miller. The contest involves the evaluation and interpretation of soils and soil profiles. Students analyze various soil pits and determine soil texture, water holding capacity, and erosion characteristics while associated the data with agriculture applications.
The Atwater FFA Agronomy judging team placed 2nd overall with Belinda Espinoza (6th overall), Emily McCartney (7th overall), Dillon Guillen, and Catalina Diaz leading the team. Other contestants included Kyle Yerrick and Breanna Marcelino. The Agronomy contest involves the study field crops and weeds with students responsible for the identification of nearly 200 crops and plants, seed, bean, and hay evaluation, and an oral presentation pertaining to their evaluations.
The Atwater FFA Ag Mechanics team competed and earned a 5th place overall team finish as they demonstrated their woodworking, electrical, oxy-fuel welding & cutting skills, tool identification, and a written exam on all aspects of agriculture mechanics. “This contest is all about ‘hands-on’ application of skills,” said coach and FFA advisor Sam Meredith, “We look forward to the opportunity to continue developing our skills and competing against other highly skilled individuals and teams throughout the upcoming contests.” Members of the Ag Mechanics team included Andrew Skidmore (7th overall), Nathaniel Cavallero, Erik Favela, Daniel Mesa, Kevin McCrary, Justin Butrick, Jacob Valladao, and Noe Agulair.
The Atwater FFA Nursery and Landscape team earned 5th place overall as they demonstrated knowledge and skills in their plant identification, plant selection & evaluation, transplanting, and written exam on all aspects of horticulture and the horticulture industry. The team was composed of Rocio Carvajal (2nd overall) and Juliet Montanez.
The Atwater FFA Small Engines team placed 5th overall as they demonstrated their skills and knowledge in small engine tool and part identification, engine theory, problem solving, and hands-on engine troubleshooting and repair. The team was composed of Alberto Ramos (3rd overall), Daniel Vann, David Zuniga, and Valerie Mejia. “The opportunity for our students to be exposed to hundreds of other high school students engaged in skill application competition generated tremendous enthusiasm from the students,” said coach and FFA advisor Shelby West.
Job Interview contest was led by a 1st place individual finish by Amanda Skidmore and Makala Navarro (8th overall). The contest involves students completing a cover letter, resume, job application, and panel interview. This event emphasizes developing, practicing, and demonstrating skills needed when seeking employment.
The Atwater FFA Floral Judging team composed of Alana Widick, Luzmila Dena, Chris Alvarez, Goldi Vang, Genoveva Arias, Janet Fernandez, Jennifer Zalfala, Rocio Rosas, Monique Anguiano competed in plant identification, arrangements, and floral skills. Results were still being determined at press time, however early indications were the team finished with a strong effort.
This was the first contest of the year for FFA programs throughout the state of California. The primary judging season begins March 7th at at UC Davis followed by Chico State University followed by UC Davis, Merced College, Modesto Junior College, West Hills College, Reedley College, Fresno State University, and the 2015 FFA State Finals at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The contests are developed for all California high school agriculture students where they are challenged to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a variety of agriculture pathways and industry sectors.
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