More than 280 students from 18 area schools gathered at Western Nebraska Community College for a district FFA competition.
The contest was made up of four different events: Ag sales, livestock management, welding and floriculture.
“It really helps them develop necessary skills to enter a career,” said Alan Held, an FFA adviser at Scottsbluff High School who coordinates the event. “It allows them to get real life experience with a competitive twist.
FFA helped lead Trayton Travnicek, a senior from Scottsbluff High School, toward the dream of becoming a welder.
“I’ve pretty much always been in FFA,” he said. “I found this contest and I really liked it.”
His plan is to attend a tech school when he graduates and work as a welder.
Brandon Neiger, a senior at Bayard High School, also competed in the welding competition.
“I’m from Bayard where everyone does FFA,” Neiger said. “So I joined and I really liked it.”
Although he enjoys welding and considered a career in it, he’s not sure that’s what he’ll end up doing.
“I think I’m going to do some teaching,” he said.
In the welding competition, like many FFA categories, participants compete individually. The score of their project is then added to the scores of other team members to determine the winner. The winning team in each event will go on to state.
Sophomore Braelyn Shresbury and junior Peittyn Johnson competed in floriculture as part of Alliance’s team. The girls got into FFA because they wanted to be around others who shared a common interest.
“We’ve all grown up on ranches and farms,” said Johnson.
“We’re all 4H kids,” added Shresbury.
They said they enjoy the leadership aspect of FFA and having the opportunity to be role models for younger kids.
“We want to be good leaders,” Johnson said. “Every kid should know what agriculture is. Every kid should know where their food comes from.”
Shresbury said they also enjoy the way agriculture is ever changing.
“You learn something new every day,” Shresbur said.
“Literally every single day,” Johnson said, agreeing.
Held said that FFA is growing. Next year, there will be 20 schools in the district instead of 18, since Sidney and Gering are adding programs, he said. Two more district career development competitions will take place over the course of the next couple months.
In February, an event in Gordon will give students a chance to show of their skills in veterinary science, ag mechanics, food science and farm business management. In Kimball, they will compete in livestock evaluation, meat evaluation, agronomy, nursery and landscape, biotechnology and agriscience.
“They are really fun events,” Held said. “It allows students to really explore different careers.”