A sea of blue jackets

I recently judged an FFA competition for the first time, and it was a great experience. How could you help local FFA students?

A few weeks ago, my sons’ FFA advisor, Alex Rodgers, emailed me asking if I would be a judge at the subdistrict career development event (CDE) held at our local high school. I was so honored to be asked.

When I walked into the lunchroom the day of the event, a sea of blue jackets stretched from wall to wall, with school names embroidered on the back and student names on the front. (One girl I spoke with suggested that the names be replaced with Snapchat handles so kids could contact each other. )

Students were competing for a chance to move on to the district competition in the categories of parliamentary procedure, extemporaneous speaking, conduct of meetings, job interview, ag sales, public speaking, creed, chapter program, and my event, ag broadcasting.

My two sons who are in FFA, Luke and Will, were not competing that day, but were busy with other Southeast Warren chapter members checking students in, helping them get from place to place, and running errands for judges. 

For ag broadcasting, two other judges and I sat in a classroom with a speaker system, while the competitor was in the room next to us with a microphone. 

Each student had come with a prewritten radio commercial, and was given a stack of news, weather, and markets options. During a 30-minute preparation period, the competitor had to select which stories made the cut, write transitions, package everything into a five-minute radio program, and practice reading it aloud.

When the preparation time was up, we listened from next door and judged each student on how well he or she developed and edited the material, gained our attention, and organized the program. We also awarded points for pronunciation, articulation, vocal quality, and the presentation and originality of the commercial.

I was blown away at the great job these students did, and I wish we could’ve advanced more than three to the district competition. I was so happy to spend the afternoon listening to these outstanding young people. 

If you have a spare afternoon, how could you help your local FFA chapter? Give them a call and see! 

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