Local FFA teams win big at national competition | TheUnion.com

Local FFA teams win big at national competition

Nevada Union High School FFA placed fourth in the nation in the National FFA Organization Parliamentary Procedure career development event.
Submitted to The Union |

The Nevada Union High School Future Farmers of America team competed at this year’s national parliamentary procedure competition in Louisville, Ky., this past weekend, going up against teams from 39 other states from around the country.

“They made it to the final round, and ended up fourth in the nation,” FFA coach Luke Browning said. “It’s not uncommon for us to compete on a national level, it is extremely prestigious. But because of the caliber of kids we have and the support from the community, we’ve been able to compete there every other year.”

The team of seven students qualified for the national tournament after winning the state championship last school year, and traveled to Louisville three days before the competition began on Oct. 29, to get acquainted with the area and catch up on some practice.

Since six of the seven students graduated from NU last spring, a majority of them were off at different colleges and in different parts of the country. In order to practice for the national tournament, the group of students would often schedule study sessions that several of them phoned in to participate through Skype video.

“This particular group of students has been ambitious since they set their feet in the high school,” NU agriculture teacher and FFA advisor Katie Alling said. “They had a goal of making it to the national finals, it took many years but they really followed through with the hard work, dedication and determination to get there.”

Alling, who remembers coaching the team for novice competitions when they were underclassmen, says it has been a pleasure to see them grow.

“I’ve always been proud of these students and their accomplishments,” she said. “It’s a unique situation to get to prepare them … and then hand them off to somebody to take them to the next level, so we really work as a team as far as preparation for the contest.”

Browning said that the national contest was tougher and longer than the state tournament, and required students to demonstrate an understanding of parliamentary procedure through a written test, problem-solving rounds, and improvised meeting scenarios and debates.

According to Browning, NU’s team had the second highest test scores in the tournament and did well enough through the three-day competition to make it to the final round of competition, which was held at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center.

“It was a really cool experience,” NU FFA team member Heath Mullen said. “We got to tour all of Kentucky, like Churchill Downs and the Louisville slugger museum, and just had a lot of fun.”

Ancillary to coming in fourth as a team, NU FFA member Maxie Holmberg Douglas won the distinguished award of high debater in the nation.

“I was pretty proud to get it because it was for all the semifinals and finals round, and there were a lot of teams that could have been considered for the award,” Douglas said. “It was a shock, I was really surprised, my team was behind me the entire way. I wish we could have done better as a team because it is a team event, but it was cool to be recognized like that.”

Browning said that a student from Bear River High School, Trenton Robinson, was an American Degree recipient at the competition, based on a supervised project he completed. Robinson’s award was the highest degree an FFA student can receive in FFA, said Browning.

“It’s a community effort when we send a group of kids there,” Browning said. “The (agriculture) boosters were extremely supportive of these kids. One lady even donated $8,000, so these students did not have to pay out of pocket to go out there for eight days. We have such great support from the community to allow our kids to compete out there.”

NU’s FFA program will hold a drive-through barbecue fundraiser on Dec. 4. The public is invited to purchase tickets from FFA members and faculty for a $10 tri-tip dinner.

“For me it’s an honor and a privilege to get to work with them,” Browning said. “They’re the reason I go to work every day, to see those kids want to excel and want to build skills that are going to make them be successful.”

For more information, go to http://www.nevadaunionffa.org.

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email inatividad@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

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