Feb 23, 2013 (Kilgore News Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Student members of Future Farmers of America (FFA) at Kilgore High School are preparing for the club's annual project show in April.
"Spring time is our busier time of year for sure," said Charles Taylor, KHS FFA instructor. "We have so many competitions in progress and we'll have the project show coming up."
FFA is a nation-wide program that allows students to both learn in the classroom and receive hands-on experience in agriculture while being monitored by instructors such as Taylor.
"FFA is not extracurricular," Taylor said. "The program is part of a three-part model of education that consists of classroom instruction, supervised agricultural experiences and the FFA.
"Classroom agricultural education is applied to hands-on learning opportunities called supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs). SAEs include activities such as starting a business, working for an established company or working in production agriculture."
FFA students compete in numerous competitions throughout both halves of the school year. The time of the year often determines the kind of competition.
Fall events are focused more on development of the student, such as an agricultural issues forum, chapter conducting, creed speaking, quizzes, job interviews, skill demonstrations and public relations.
Spring FFA events focus more on career development and include mechanics, sales, communication, management, food science, forestry, livestock, land evaluation, marketing planning and veterinary science.
"Our students start out at competitions on the district level," Taylor said. "They move up through the state."
With the project show and various fairs and competitions coming up within the next few months, KHS' FFA students are hard at work constructing or raising their annual projects. Some students make use of hardware equipment in KHS' Agricultural Building to cut, weld and construct agricultural mechanical products. Others raise livestock.
"They raise steers, goats, rabbits and more," Taylor said. "There are our primary animals you see every year."
Students are also tasked with developing public speaking skills.
"Public speaking is one of the biggest areas in FFA," Taylor said. "It teaches kids to have confidence and helps them develop in any career they'd want to go into.
"Students participate in prepared public speaking and extemporaneous speaking, where the students are given a subject to briefly research and given time to prepare a speech."
Even after the school year ends, FFA continues to operate through the summer.
"We do have kids who are participating in the state FFA contest in July," Taylor said.
For now, KHS FFA is focused on the upcoming contests and annual show. The project show and sale is set to take place Saturday, April 6 at the Leon Gibson Agricultural Farm.
"The event consists of a livestock show and agricultural mechanics show," Taylor said. "The show begins at 8:30 a.m. and will conclude with the steer show around noon. Following the livestock show we will have a barbeque which will begin at 5:00 p.m. The BBQ dinner is open to the public; we will serve until we run out of food. The student project auction sale will start at 6 p.m. with the 'Sale of Champions.'"
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