FFA Agricultural Issues team claims second at nationals

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FFA Agricultural Issues team claims second at nationals

The Ag Issues team placed second at nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Ag Issues team placed second at nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Courtesy of Canyon ISD

The Ag Issues team placed second at nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Courtesy of Canyon ISD

Courtesy of Canyon ISD

The Ag Issues team placed second at nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Seven pairs of eyes quickly scan over their designated parts as they subconsciously straighten their blue corduroy jackets and breathe out the words which have been embedded in their minds since last October. Hours of research, discussions and studying among the team and agricultural teachers will be evaluated on one of the highest scales as they compete against some of the best in the nation.

The Agricultural Issues team competed for the 2016 national title in Indianapolis, Indiana after winning the state title in December 2015. The team competed at three different levels before representing Texas at the national level. The team included 2016 graduates Quade Salazar, Brady Gales, Bailey Hufnagle and Callie Hawkins, as well as senior Brynn Owen and juniors Macey Thurman and Chloe Kemp.

“The contest was not much different than state, until we got into the final round,” Kemp said. “It was like nothing I’d ever been to before because there was a plethora of people from all around the nation. Overall it was an amazing experience.”

I think we differ from other teams in the fact we are so close and the amazing way we work together.”

— Chloe Kemp, 11

The seven members placed second to the California team at nationals and received $600, engraved writing pens and a pin for each member’s FFA jacket. Kemp said the team chemistry and dynamic contributed to their success at the state and national competitions.

“We worked so well together, and we each had different strengths which helped us get to where are,” Kemp said. “My team is such a compatible, well put-together team, and I received the honor to be a part of it. I think we differ from other teams in the fact we are so close and the amazing way we work together.”

Each team member is obligated to put in the time and dedication needed to perfect their performance and knowledge of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the reasoning behind labeling them and the opposition of labeling in the agricultural industry.

“All seven of us guaranteed, especially when in contests, we would remain passionate while also being calm, poised and focused speakers,” Salazar said. “I can confidently speak for my agricultural teachers and fellow teammates when I say our performance at nationals reflected this intense dedication and made many Texas FFA members, both past and present, proud to be such.”

This experience has been nothing but a blessing, and I’ll hold these friends and memories close for the rest of my life.”

— Quade Salazar, Graduate

The Agricultural Issues team has been preparing for state and nationals since October 2015.

“Our first main goal was to win state, but nationals was always in our sights,” Kemp said. “We are very grateful to get as far as we did. We had prepared for so long and did our absolute best.”

Salazar said the results from the state competition against the Madisonville Agriculture Issues team strengthened their expectations for what they could achieve in future competitions.

“As a member of the 2013 Ag Issues team who made first at area only to place fourth at state where Madisonville again placed first, I was well aware of the challenge they would provide,” Salazar said. “To our astonishment, we placed first at the state level last December and advanced to nationals, where we had the honor of representing our home state in the issues contest.”

Salazar said the road to nationals included countless presentations, scheduled meetings with ag professionals, and hours of research and discussion.

“My experience with this contest has been such a gratifying one, and I feel greatly indebted to every last person who helped our team achieve the level of success we have,” Salazar said. “Placing second at a national level is pretty great, and I will not play it down at all. This experience has been nothing but a blessing, and I’ll hold these friends and memories close for the rest of my life.”

The team has been supported financially by the Canyon community as well as emotionally encouraged by agricultural teachers Jeff Klose, Jett Mason and D’Arcy Roberts.

“The general feeling of ease and genuine friendship among our team is one I will never forget, and one I don’t think can ever quite be replicated,” Salazar said. “The community support we have received throughout this process has been overwhelming, and we could not have competed at nationals without the support of Canyon, Texas. I know all seven of us on the team have nothing but love in our hearts for these intelligent, incredible teachers, role models and true friends.”

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