NU students shine in FFA competition
Students in the agriculture department at Nevada Union High School have a way of doing well in competitions. In the past six months, FFA students have won more than 20 accolades at various statewide and national competitions.
Last Saturday, two NU juniors scored the maximum points in two different categories at the California State University Chico FFA Field Day.
Graham Blagg, 16, was the “high individual” in the livestock judging category, beating out 170 contestants. Travis Seolas, 17, was the “high individual” in the forestry category, besting more than 40 participants.
In addition, the NU forestry team and the livestock judging team stood first and fifth in their respective categories.
“I am very excited because I was working very hard for a long time,” Seolas said. “This is a culmination of many years of practicing.”
Seolas, who has raised animals for the Nevada County Fair since he was a child, said he joined FFA as a freshman. This was the third time he participated in the Chico FFA Field Day.
“We (the forestry team) practice two times a week every week from the beginning of the year,” Seolas said. “We practice all parts of the competition – plant and tool identification, timber measurement, acreage, map-reading and compass.”
Blagg credited his team’s success to extensive practicing, as well.
“We practice twice a week for various contests,” he said. “Also, sometimes when there are no competitions, the team will go to ranches on Saturdays and practice livestock judging.”
Blagg said his team’s goal was to be among the top five teams in the state at the finals in May.
“We as coaches push them (FFA students) to do well; we expect them to do well,” said Karen Henderson, FFA advisor and coach at NU. “If we have high expectations, they have that of themselves, too.”
The agriculture department at NU now contains 340 students, Henderson said. On an average, students take an hour-long class a day at the department.
“Students interested in developing more leadership skills will spend four hours a week after school with us to excel at contests,” Henderson said.
To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4229.
The forestry contest informs high school students about what professional foresters do in their day-to-day job, NU Junior Travis Seolas said. In a forestry contest, participants have to do the following:
• Identify 200 species of plants.
• Measure the diameter and height of a tree using special instruments.
• Estimate the acreage of a piece of land.
• Read topographic maps.
• Identify tools used in the forestry industry.
• Identify characteristics of wood and its defects.
• Use a compass correctly.
In the livestock judging contest, students judge beef cattle, pigs and sheep, said NU junior Graham Blagg. The animals are judged on their confirmation and on data supplied to the contestant on each animal he’s judging. The contestant then has to offer the reasons behind his judgment to a panel of judges.
Source: Travis Seolas, and Graham Blagg, NU juniors
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