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Clear Spring FFA'ers excel at national meet

December 09, 2000

Clear Spring FFA'ers excel at national meet



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer


CLEAR SPRING - If they had to, Clear Spring High School students Matt Cline, Karen Courter and Collin Calhoun could manage a farm.

They could time the futures market, set prices to make profits, choose seed, pay their taxes and devise budgets and risk management plans.

That's because Cline, Courter and Calhoun are members of the Future Farmers of America club at Clear Spring High.

They were among the 21 Clear Spring FFA members who joined about 46,000 FFA students from around the nation at the 2000 National FFA Convention held Oct. 24-29 in Louisville, Ky.

The Clear Spring students won state competitions to qualify for the national contest, said FFA adviser Terrie Shank, who chaperoned the group with co-adviser Susan Lowery and one other adult.

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"Clear Spring has a really strong tradition in FFA and doing well in national competitions," Lowery said.

Clear Spring FFA members participated in five contests - food science and technology, agricultural communications, forestry, agricultural issues and farm business management.

Individual students and teams as a whole were ranked.

"We have a very hardworking group of young people here," Shank said. "We are very proud that they represented us and did such a wonderful job."

Senior Micah Socks won a $750 scholarship after he placed second in the nation in the individual portion of the food science and technology competition. His team placed 10th nationally.

Senior Travis Bennett won a $500 scholarship after he placed 11th in the nation in the individual part of the agricultural communications competition. His team placed 12th nationally.

Socks' fellow food science and technology team member Ben Hall won a gold medal for placing 19th in the individual competition.

The food science team had one hour to develop and market a light, tasty and nutritional on-the-go lunch for young adults. The most challenging part of creating the team's Lunch Ready to Go was coming up with a product that balanced health and flavor, said Socks and team member Mike Spielman.

Socks was shocked to learn he was a big winner, he said.

"I was amazed. Mrs. Shank had to tell me to go up and get the award," he said.

Bennett said he was also "completely surprised" by his win.

The agricultural communications team had the task of preparing a marketing methods proposal to help secure milk prices for dairy farmers.

With the help of an agricultural extension agent and farm page newspaper editor, the group worked on the proposal - titled "Financial Risk Management Opportunities for Dairy Farmers in Washington County" - before attending the conference, members said.

In Kentucky, the team presented the project and took written editing and communications tests.

Among other challenges, forestry competitors faced the daunting task of identifying the type of wood in numerous products.

"It was tough," said junior Larry Riggleman.

He and senior Megan Drury said they also identified species of trees, did compass work, were interviewed about a forestry issue, and took a written test.

A forester at Indian Springs Wildlife Management Area "put in a lot of time" with the students before the convention, Lowery said.

The agricultural issues team focused on the debate about using animals in scientific tests.

Team members gave a power point presentation about the topic, performed a scientists versus animal activists role play exercise, and answered questions about their research, they said.

Despite an equipment failure, "I think we gave a very strong performance," senior Brian Hose said.

The farm business management team completed a written test and a taxing 26-page farm analysis.

"It was a very difficult contest," said senior Matt Cline. "When I joined FFA, I never thought I'd be doing any of this."

"I used to think a flower was just a flower and a tree was just a tree," Courter said. "I didn't know how complicated the whole farm thing is."

Cline, Courter and other club members said they've learned such skills as public speaking, leadership, business management and communication that will help them in college and throughout their lives.

"FFA is a great opportunity," Cline said. "It's an experience I think everyone should have a chance to do."

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