Four members of the Miami Trace/Great Oaks FFA came home from Springfield, Massachusetts as the top agronomy team in FFA’s Eastern Region.
Team members Grant DeBruin, Lahni Stachler, Graham Carson and Lydia Zwoll were named the top four individual competitors as well. In the region, DeBruin took first place honors, Stachler second, Carson third and Zwoll fourth.
The students are enrolled in the agricultural education program offered by Great Oaks Career Campuses at Miami Trace High School. The program has three instructors—Bruce Bennett, Amanda Swigert and Wendi Mizer Stachler. The current enrollment is approximately 205 FFA members.
The competition recently took place during the Big E—Eastern States Exposition.
The students qualified for the regional competition by placing second in the Ohio FFA Agronomy Career Development Event (CDE) this past spring in Columbus. This state event assessed the students’ knowledge of production agronomic practices for field and forage crops.
Miami Trace/Great Oaks FFA had seven students compete at the state level—DeBruin, Stachler, Carson and Zwoll as well as Meri Grace Carson, Weston Melvin and Tyler Cummings.
The regional competition required the students to demonstrate a wide range of skills and knowledge in agronomy and crop management. Individually, students had to identify crops and weed seeds, specimens at various stages of development, as well as identify insect specimens by insect name, economic impact and the life cycle in which the insect generally causes the most economic impact to the crop.
Students also identified crop disorders based on name, causal agent and type of damage caused to the plant. In addition, students evaluated and ranked four forage (hay) samples based on quality, maturity, leafiness, fineness of stems, color, presence of mold or dust, fineness and uniformity of cut and moisture content.
“Our students put in countless hours of practice to prepare for the agronomy and other CDEs at all levels,” said Stachler.
“This is one of those learning opportunities where we hope students gain skills and knowledge that will potentially lead them to a future career,” she said of the competitive events, which are based on business and industry-verified skills.
The agronomy team was coached by Evan Schaefer, a former Miami Trace FFA member who was on a state-winning Agronomy CDE team and who competed in the National FFA Agronomy CDE in 2012. While competing, he continued to be heavily involved in his family’s crop production farm.
“We are extremely lucky to be coached by Schaefer,” said Stachler. “He brings present and past experience, as well as practical knowledge to the table, and students are able to gain from that insight. We also have tremendous support from our school, district, parents and community.”