Woodbury FFA Shows Off Skills at National Convention


Woodbury FFA

Nonnewaug competed in Indianapolis this week, placing several groups among the top performers in the nation.

Jason Suess, Staff Writer

INDIANAPOLIS, IN. — Woodbury FFA is being represented by 33 students competing at Nationals from the 24th to the 29th of October in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

There are multiple CDE (Career Development Events) and LDE (Leadership Development Events) teams that were participating in the FFA National Convention. There were nine teams going to compete, the teams were Creed Speaking, Livestock Judging, Floriculture, Meat Judging, Conduct of Chapter Meetings, Landscaping, POA (Program of Activities), Aquaculture, Quiz Bowl, and Proficiency Finalists. Woodbury FFA also has three students that are state officers who will also be attending. 

“I believe that the hardest thing they will have to overcome is the changes put in place due to the pandemic,” Eric Birkenberger, floriculture coach and faculty member, said. Many changes were made that our teachers, and their coaches, are not 100% familiar or comfortable with.  We are obviously more confident when we have more experience.”

Eric Birkenberger, floriculture coach, said, “I think the teams will do well. I believe that most will place in the silver range with maybe one team getting gold and maybe one in the bronze.”

Some of the changes in this year’s national contests are having portions of the competitions online. Depending on the contest, areas online were the general knowledge exams, team activities that were only done on paper, or identification of different items. For example. livestock judging had their general knowledge exam online and their team activity which was looking at the data of bulls and determining which ones are best for the situation provided and calculating the cost of shipping cattle.

The competitions continued to be scored the way they always have, with the tiers of bronze, silver, and gold. National FFA divides the scoring into tiers. The bottom third of the results are awarded bronze, the middle third of the results are given silver and the top third of the competition is awarded gold.

In Nursery/Landscaping CDE students compete in tool, pest, and disease identification as well as verbal and written customer assistance. This group left this year’s 2022 competition with a silver medal. 

“It’s important [to know landscaping skills] because it helps teach the next generation of progressive landscapers about industry practices,” said Ryan Wicklund following this week’s competition. “[There are] growing problems that our generation will have to come up with solutions to solve.”

The landscaping team from left to right (Coach Mr. Tom DiMarco, Ryan Wicklund, Allysa Calabrese, Leah Quijano, and Hannah Wisnuiski) finished with a silver medal at the end of the 95th National FFA Convention.

 In Creed Speaking competitors speak the FFA creed and answer questions about the creed. Chloe Walsh, who represented Connecticut finished 3rd overall in this year’s competition.

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. This group finished in 3rd nationally and included Vicky Koether, Gabby Guerra, Madelynn Orosz, and Casey Watson. 

In Floriculture, the objectives are to identify plants, judge and make flower arrangements, and solve critical thinking problems that would be needed in the industry. The team coached by Eric Birkenberger and consisting of Juliann Noyd, Rebecca Riddle, Breanna Butkietvich, and Emma Alexander, finished gold 

In the Conduct of Chapter Meetings LDE, the objectives are to demonstrate the opening and closing of an FFA meeting. This team consisting of Liam Sandor, Haley Sarandrea, Kyleigh Paige, Ashlyn Graziano, Sam Kostka, Abby Diezel, and Grace Schmidheini received bronze.

In Meat Judging, the objectives are for students to evaluate beef carcasses for quality and yield grade; identify various meat cuts and place carcasses, and identify wholesale and/or retail cuts. The team members included Tess Aksoy, Sarah Walsh, Chloe Bombero, and Samara Thomas who finished bronze. 

In Quiz Bowl, the objective is to answer questions about the FFA and help get students a better understanding of the FFA. The team consisted of Liam Sandor, Abby Dizel, and Ashlyn Graziano who placed gold. 

It is an honor for these students to compete at the national level because it shows how hard they worked to be able to win their state competition, as well as study contest content alongside their school work and then compete against the rest of the country.