Big E Prepares Students for National Competition


Jason Suess

A variety of Woodbury FFA teams showcased their skills at last month’s Big E in preparation for National Competitions in Indianapolis.

Jason Suess, Ag/FFA Reporter

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The Woodbury FFA represented Connecticut well in the FFA competition weekend at the Big E in mid-September. Livestock Evaluation, Nursery/Landscaping, Floriculture, and Creed Speaking competed to the standard that the chapter is known for. 

Eric Birkenberger, floriculture coach, said, “Individually, I thought [Woodbury FFA] would do well.”

The students did just that.

Senior Leah Quijano placed fifth in the region for landscaping and 2022 graduate, Brianna Butkievich, placed second in the region for Floriculture; Chloe Walsh placed fifth for Creed Speaking in the region and the Livestock Evaluation team placed 4th in the region.

The Woodbury FFA Livestock Judging team was part of the NHS student group that competed in West Springfield. (Absent from photo: Casey Watson). (Madelynn Orosz)

The FFA contest days at the Big E are crucial to the success of the state winners at the national competition. These contests bring top teams from New England and surrounding states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire and other New England states, preparing them for the overwhelming competition of Nationals.

In Nursery/Landscaping CDE they compete in tool, pest, and disease identification as well as verbal and written customer assistance.

In Creed Speaking they speak the FFA creed and answer questions about the creed. 

In Livestock Evaluation, the team works to rank breeding and market classes of sheep, beef cattle, swine and goats as well as answer questions about the industry and livestock management practices. 

In Floriculture competition, the objectives are to identify plants, judge and make flower arrangements, and solve critical thinking problems that would be needed in the industry.  

A problem with the competitions at the Big E was the amount of people walking through the contest areas.

“It was harder for [the students] because people were walking through the barns they were competing in,” Birkenberger said.

Members of the livestock contest dealt with unaware members of the general public walking through the judging portion of the competition and getting in the way of the competitors. 

Participating in these competitions prepared the students for anything that could come in their way competing at the National FFA Convention at the end of the month in Indianapolis.