FFA’s CDEs and LDEs Provide Foundation of a Successful Life


Woodbury FFA

Competitions like the Quiz Bowl LDE teach students skills in teamwork, communication, study habits, a strong work ethic and public speaking skills. Members of the Connecticut FFA champion Quiz Bowl Team, from left, Abby Dizel, Liam Sandor, and Ashlyn Graziano finished 14th in the country.

Madelynn Orosz, Ag/FFA Editor

WOODBURY — If you ask any agriscience student at Nonnewaug, they’ll probably tell you about a contest they did during their time in the program. Some do Milk Quality, others Mechanics, or even Employment Skills. These contests are known as CDEs or LDEs. 

“CDE/LDEs teach students valuable lessons in areas that interest them,” said Nick Saccomani, a Nonnewaug senior.

Saccomani was a member of the state champion Aquaculture CDE team in 2022, and while serving as the chapter parliamentarian, he has encouraged members to search for their passions and join CDE/LDEs.

“Students learn a lot about different agricultural topics through their ag class or their SAE, but a CDE allows them to put what they have learned to the test through a competitive angle,” said Tom DiMarco, NHS landscaping teacher and coach of multiple CDE/LDEs.

A CDE, or Career Development Event, is an FFA contest that focuses on a specific area of agriculture, such as Livestock Judging, Horse Judging, Meat Judging, or Landscaping. 

“CDEs allow students to gain a better understanding of what they may experience in class and in the industry,” added Saccomani.

These contests test the knowledge of students in hands-on practicums and knowledge exams as well as demonstrating the ability to budget or decision making. They are designed to boost the ability of the student to succeed outside of school with the knowledge of the industry. 

An LDE or Leadership Development Event is an FFA contest that provides participants with knowledge and skills that can be applied to any profession when they grow up. 

“LDEs help students develop and showcase their leadership skills in order to prepare them for life and teach valuable lessons in other areas of agriculture,” said Saccomani.

LDE events include Creed Speaking, Extemporaneous Public Speaking, Ag Business, and Parliamentary Procedure. The contests teach students skills in teamwork, public speaking skills, and other cluster skills that can be used in many ways after graduation. 

National FFA sponsors 26 events from Agronomy to Veterinary Science every year at the national level and other states sponsor their own specific to their state’s agriculture. 

“FFA members are challenged to develop critical thinking skills and effective decision-making skills, foster teamwork, and promote communication while recognizing the value of ethical competition and individual achievement,” according to the National FFA CDE/LDE homepage.

Students don’t have to be enrolled in the class to compete on the team.

“CDEs allow students not in the designated class to learn more about other areas of agriculture, and appreciate them,” said Saccomani.

“For some students, a CDE or LDE can even be an entry point into a particular area of agriculture that they want to learn more about,” DiMarco added.   

An example of this is a floriculture student who also has a passion for horses and decides to participate on the horse judging team. This allows them to gain real-world industry experience in multiple areas of agriculture, without making them choose between what class they can fit in. 

“Each student should participate in a CDE or LDE because of the leadership and knowledge they give, and the personal growth they encourage,” said Saccomani.