Agronomy Team competes at National FFA Convention

THE SCW FFA Chapter was represented well by the agronomy team that competed at the National FFA Convention.  They brought home a silver team medal in the event, and individual medals as follows:  Jonathan Linke – gold, Aaron Linke – gold, Nathan Linke – silver, Bailey Schmiedt – bronze, pictured with Advisor Mr. Shane Gross.

THE SCW FFA Chapter was represented well by the agronomy team that competed at the National FFA Convention. They brought home a silver team medal in the event, and individual medals as follows: Jonathan Linke – gold, Aaron Linke – gold, Nathan Linke – silver, Bailey Schmiedt – bronze, pictured with Advisor Mr. Shane Gross.

The SC/W FFA Agronomy team and other chapter members enjoyed the experience of the 88th National FFA Convention in Louisville, Ky., with the theme “Amplify…Boost Your Impact!”  Team/Chapter members attending were Jonathan Linke, Aaron Linke, Nathan Linke, Bailey Schmiedt, Wyatt Feistner, Shaun Snedeker, Tyler Johnson, Trevor Olson, Alex Wormstadt and Garrett Dean, accompanied by Advisor Shane Gross and chaperones, Lisa Snedeker and Paula Linke.
The group left on Monday, Oct. 26, for St. Louis, Mo., where they were hosted by Monsanto and Jennifer Feistner. On Tuesday, FFA members toured the Chesterfield Research Facility, where they did an experiment on extracting DNA from strawberries.  They learned how Monsanto extracts DNA from plants and works to continuously improve the productivity of plants.  The group also visited Monsanto headquarters and talked about Jennifer’s role and responsibilities as a regional manager at Monsanto.  Next, Monsanto treated the group to a tour of the Arch and a St. Louis Blues Hockey game.
On Wednesday, the FFA group made the final leg of the journey to Louisville.  For the Agronomy team, this was a journey that started in 2014 when the Linke brothers, Jonathan, Aaron and Nathan, set a goal to win the Agronomy CDE at the state level.
In 2013, the Linke trio, along with Riley Schmiedt, won the Livestock Judging CDE at the state level. The win qualified the team to compete at the national competition at the 2013 National FFA Convention and recorded the first time ever that a Woonsocket FFA team had won the State FFA contest in a CDE in any event area.  This sparked a fire for more.
As a result of their preparation in 2014, the team placed fourth at the state level.  By the time the 2015 State FFA Convention rolled around, the Linke boys, along with new team member Bailey Schmiedt, had recorded a number of team and individual wins at the local level. At the State FFA Convention, the team not only won the state Agronomy CDE team title, they won individually with Aaron in first, Nathan in second and Jonathan in fourth, and Bailey placing 15th of 116 participants.
Agronomy team members began their competition on Wednesday of the National FFA Convention.  The national agronomy contest is made more difficult because you need to have knowledge of crops, weeds and pests across the nation, not just those that are common to your state or region.  The first day of competition included a team event, insect ID and a couple judging classes.
During the team event, they were given the task of creating a one-year plan for a farmer that was growing corn.  They had to choose seed variety and quantities, fertilizer, insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, determine total input costs and project net profit for the year.  The plan had to be presented to the judges, followed by responses to questions on their choices.  Individually, team members had to identify ten insects, along with their life cycle and eating habits.  The two judging classes were tomatoes and forage, with written reasons supporting their placement.
Agronomy competition continued on Thursday with individual contests including equipment ID, soil judging, plant and seed ID, grain grading, plant disease identification and a written exam.  The equipment ID contest is considered by the group to be the easiest part, including 20 pieces of equipment such as a baler, yield monitor, forage harvester, soil probe or hydraulic hose.
During the soil judging contest, contestants evaluated soil monoliths on the soil type and what types of plants would grow on the soil.  They each completed 25 questions on general soil knowledge and the soil monoliths.  In addition, they were given a scenario to determine if a farmer’s soybeans had soybean cyst nematode.  Another scenario given was to make a fertilizer recommendation for a wheat crop using soil test results.
The plant and seed ID contest had 25 plants and 25 seeds to ID from a list of crops and weeds.  The list included everything from common mullein seed to canola seed to lettuce seed, and white clover to cabbage to tall fesque for plants.  In the plant disease ID, contestants had to identify 10 problems, including the type of disease (biological, cultural or mechanical), the agent causing the disease, and what part of the plant was affected (vegetative or seed/fruit).
During the grain grading contest, contestants were given test weight, moisture content, percentage of broken kernels, dockage, odor and base price for two grains, sorghum and wheat.  They had to evaluate the quality of the sample and determine dockage and discounts.
The written exam had 50 questions on general knowledge that an agronomist should know.  It also included a scenario to find the best variety of sunflower for an oil seed sunflower farmer in Onida based on looking at trial results from a test plot near Onida.
The team attended an awards lunch on Friday where the CDE results were announced.  Every participant received a medal from bronze to gold.  The SC/W FFA team received a silver medal, placing 15 of 36 teams.  Individual medals received were Jonathan – gold (25 of 144), Aaron – gold (41 of 144), Nathan – silver (52 of 144) and Bailey – bronze.
Members had the opportunity to take in general sessions hearing speakers such as Brad Montague, creator of Kid President, and the retiring addresses of the 2014-2015 National FFA Officers.  As part of the 65,173 registered convention attendees, they listened to presentations on topics related to the “Amplify” theme, including  “Take Action,” “Crank Up the Commitment,” “Serve Selflessly,” “Pursue our Passions,” “Raise our Voices” and “Maximize Our Potential.”  They also attended the Extemporaneous Speaking Contest finals, the Parli Pro (conduct of meetings) finals and the National FFA Expo, the country’s largest annual student gathering filled with FFA supporters and possible future employers.
The SC/W FFA group enjoyed a tour of the Louisville Slugger factory and museum, where they learned about the bat making process from forest to factory.  They also attended the Jake Owen concert.
Jonathan fulfilled a second role at the National Convention as the SD State FFA Treasurer.  Along with his state officer team, he participated in delegate process training, committee meetings, leadership training, and attendance and participation in convention events.  A highlight of the week was the opportunity to work and socialize with other state officers from across the nation.
Mr. Shane Gross, Advisor, adds “SC/W FFA was represented by a great group of members during the past week.  I am proud to be their advisor and to tell the community that they represented us well.  The future of agriculture in our county is bright with leaders like these coming up.”
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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