Woonsocket FFA team represents South Dakota at Nationals

Livestock Evaluation Team earns silver medals

THE Woonsocket FFA Chapter Livestock Evaluation CDE Team with their silver medals and silver team plaque: Aaron Linke, Riley Schmiedt, Jonathan Linke and Drew Olinger

The Woonsocket FFA Livestock Evaluation Team and alternates enjoyed a very successful and fun week in Louisville, Ky. at the 86th National FFA Convention & Expo.
Attendance at the convention was 62,998, up from 56,176 attendees last year. Chapter members attending were Jonathan Linke, Drew Olinger, Aaron Linke, Riley Schmiedt, Shay Swenson and Nathan Linke, accompanied by Advisor Shane Gross and Chaperone Paula Linke.
Every participant received a medal from bronze to gold.  The first place team was from Wyoming.  The Woonsocket FFA team received a silver medal and placed 27th of 46 teams.  Each of the team members, Jonathan Linke, Riley Schmiedt, Aaron Linke and Drew Olinger, earned a silver medal.  Jonathan ranked 81 of 184 individually.
The group left on Monday, Oct. 28 and stopped enroute to tour the John Deere Engine Works factory in Waterloo, Iowa. Unfinished engine blocks, heads and crankshafts are precision-machined and assembled into John Deere diesel engines as well as power centers for other manufacturers.
Next stop was a visit to the Iowa 80 World’s Largest Truckstop in Walcott, Iowa.  The Chapter reached their destination that evening by Goodfield, Ill., where they were hosted overnight by the Clay and Angie Edwards family.  Clay was an active FFA member at Artesian-Letcher School and past South Dakota State FFA President.
On Tuesday morning, the boys took some time to practice livestock judging at the Lemenager Angus farm. They then headed to Indianapolis, Ind. where they stopped for a tour of the National FFA Center. The group arrived in Louisville that evening.
The Livestock Evaluation Team began competition in the Career Development Event (CDE) on Wednesday with a written test on livestock production, three keep/cull selection classes, one placing and questions class and two team activities. The written test covered questions in various areas including breed characteristics and history, nutrition, diseases, production, general animal science and more. Examples of test questions were, “Which disease affects the turbinate bones in swine?” and, “Joints in the skeleton of animals that allow free movement and have a fluid-filled cavity are called?”
In the keep/cull selection classes, the team was given scenarios for three classes of eight: Simmental Heifers, Crossbred Ewe Lambs and Crossbred Gilts. For each class, the team had to choose which four animals to keep and which to cull based on visual appraisal, the given scenarios and the EPDs of the animals.
The team activities, utilizing reproductive and marketing information, demonstrates the teams’ livestock selection ability.  The first team activity was to judge a class of bulls and then choose the best bulls to breed a select group of females based on different scenarios given the EPD’s of the bulls.  The second team activity was value-based marketing including purchasing livestock, transportation cost and calculating shrink and slide.
The group attended an awards breakfast on Friday where the CDE results were announced and the competitors were awarded their silver medals.
On Thursday’s day of competition, the team judged eight classes of livestock including market and breeding beef, market and breeding sheep, market and breeding swine and breeding meat goats,  and gave oral reasons on four of the classes.
Members had the opportunity to take in a couple of general sessions hearing speakers such as Rick Pitino, coach of the NCAA basketball champion Louisville Cardinals, Josh Sundquist, a cancer/amputation survivor who competes for the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team, and the retiring addresses of the 2012-2013 National FFA Officers. They also attended the National FFA Expo, the country’s largest annual student gathering filled with FFA supporters and possible future employers.
The group enjoyed some sightseeing during the week.
On Wednesday, they toured the Louisville Slugger factory and museum.
On Friday afternoon, the group toured the Kentucky Derby Museum and watched a horse race on the Churchill Downs track. Friday evening was spent enjoying the World’s Toughest Rodeo, along with Sanborn Central FFA Members Haley Degen and Hannah Spelbring.
On Saturday, the group headed for home with a final stop at The Arch in St. Louis, Mo., where they enjoyed the view of St. Louis from the top of the Arch.
Riley says, “It was an awesome experience, something I will never forget.  We had a very enjoyable week and I am proud of how our team did!  I hope we are able to go back again in another CDE!”
Mr. Shane Gross, Advisor, adds, “These boys did a great job representing their school and community on the national level. They placed above many students who were seniors in high school and freshmen in college.  As we move on to new CDE areas this spring, I look for great things to come out of this program, hopefully taking us to the national level yet again.  This year’s national theme is “Ignite” and I believe that we have ignited something great within this Ag program and FFA chapter.”
The Woonsocket FFA Team is very thankful to all those who supported and helped the team in their accomplishment.
FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

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