Midland’s FFA Chapter returned from their trip to the National Convention with a couple of big performances which were celebrated with a gathering after school Nov. 2.

The ag issues team took fourth place in looking at how the livestock industry, particularly cattle, has on the environment. The team said they discovered while they found the industry contributed to pollution, steps were being taken to help address the issue. In order to compete at the national level, they had to place in the top two at their district meet and win the category at the state convention. Due to COVID considerations, the first preliminary rounds were held virtually, but the team felt that it was actually an advantage for them. They said they had more time to set up for their virtual presentation and that it felt more comfortable with less eyes on them as anyone could sit in on the in-person presentations.

The group made their presentation, answered questions from the judges and also provided a portfolio with all their sources. They were one of two teams to make it out of their room, and one of 16 to make the in-person presentations at nationals. When it came to answering questions, they said they felt pretty prepared and were lucky to be in a knowledgeable district that prepared them well for what they would face as they continued to advance further in the competition.

The agronomy team took 12th. They qualified for nationals by winning at the state level and again had to make it through the preliminary virtual round before competing at nationals. In this case, team member Coy Petersen said having to do the first part virtually made their job much harder. When examining different weeds or crops for identification, they had to go off a picture instead of being able to look at things from different angles.

“It really helps because some of those seeds just have one little part of it that’s different,” he said.

Also upping the difficulty, teams had to familiarize themselves with different weeds, insects, seeds and crops from across the country, not just things they were familiar with on a local level. In addition to being able to get more hands on once it got to the national portion, there was another advantage to the in-person part of the competition.

“You had to judge hay. The big thing with hay is if it has a good smell. Obviously, you can’t do that virtually,” he said.

The national level also required them to market analysis as well as a soil test for a farm.

“That was all new information,” Petersen said.

The chapter as a whole also was named a three-star national chapter in their first time applying for the recognition, one of 10 chapters in the state.

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