June 2018
Youth Matters

FFA Sentinel: Alabama FFA District Contest

Engaging Alabama’s Youth Through Agricultural Education


Left, at the 2018 North District Eliminations, Jayden Parris of Fort Payne High School wins the top spot in Agricultural Construction & Maintenance.


Stepping out and standing up into leadership roles is just one piece of the puzzle for FFA members. Steven Allen, left, Clements, wins second place in Extemporaneous Speaking and is with Jacob Cosby, advisor.

Over 4,000 Alabama FFA members have competed in District FFA Eliminations this past fall and spring.

Alabama FFA seeks to promote premier leadership, personal growth and career success in all its members. It also strives to live up to our motto: Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.

As FFA members across the three districts in Alabama converged upon the campuses of Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Jefferson State Community College in Clanton and Enterprise High School, they represented the very best of their schools and counties. These shining stars of their respective high schools’ agricultural programs and FFA chapters duked it out for the coveted top spots, allowing them to compete at the state level in hopes of continuing to the national FFA contests and convention.

Arab brings home the second-place banner for Nursery-Landscape: Ben Isom, Amanda Lynn, Scott Butler, advisors (not pictured); Cody Wagner, Zachary Stewart, Caroline Webster, Drew Hetler, members.


Fort Payne wins third in Nursery-Landscape: Garry Bell and Richard Camp, advisors (not pictured); Avery Payton, Hunter Noles, Dakota Bowling and Andrew Burt, members.


West Point High School places first in Livestock: Ethan Lake, advisor; Brice Wells (High Scoring Individual), Kody McCullar, Caroline Thompson, Landon Bullard, members.


Cullman Middle School receives the third-place banner in Forestry: Lucas McCollum, advisor (not pictured); Andrew Conway, Zac Edwards, Forrest Calvert, Evan Richards, members.


I remember back to my time as an FFA member and the excitement of just making it out of the county competition for the opportunity to compete at district. Then to hear your FFA chapter name called as a top four finalist, knowing you have the opportunity to advance to state competition, was very exciting.

As I watched the future of Alabama and American agriculture on the awards stages, I don’t think that feeling has changed all that much. These young agriculturists are passionate about FFA and agriculture … and make no bones about it. They were passionate about winning their contests.

These contests are broken down into three types: career development events, leadership development events and talent development events. They test the knowledge of FFA members, and range from livestock evaluation and horticulture-related industries to speaking and talent events such as string band and quartet.


Elkmont takes the top spot in Agricultural Mechanics: Ben Maples, advisor; Kayla McNatt, Corey Sims, Cody Watkins, Branden Long, members.

FFA members work hard all year to prepare for their district contests, and so do the teachers who train these teams and the parents who support their FFA members. You see, being in an agriculture class and getting involved in FFA is no longer just for farm kids. This truly is an avenue for every student enrolled in agricultural courses at their local high school. On a daily basis, teachers challenge their students to get out of their comfort zones and reach for their full potentials.

Madison County Career Academy displays their third place Agricultural Mechanics banner: Scott Cheyne, advisor; Luke King, Aaron Wethington, Andrea Shockley and Preston Craddock, members.


At the North District Eliminations I met Steven Allen, from Clements FFA Chapter, who competed and placed second in the Extemporaneous Speaking contest, and will advance to state. Because of that experience, he is considering taking his FFA career to the next level and running for a district office next year.

In FFA, you will find story after story of students who recalled their agriscience teacher getting them interested in FFA. Through this opportunity, many doors were opened to them and they got to meet new lifelong friends as well as gaining skills to be competitive in today’s workforce.

As both an agriculture teacher and agriculture-education state staff member, I can’t think of a better way to get students engaged in project-based, experiential learning than through agricultural education and provide them an avenue to showcase what they have learned through FFA. District Eliminations are just one of those opportunities.


Oak Grove places second in Floriculture: Ron Harris, advisor (not pictured); Haley Humphryes, Natalie Widener, Jazmin Contreras, Maddie Jackson, members. Winning chapters and members for all three district eliminations are on Alabama FFA’s website, www.alabamaffa.org.

As more and more Americans are curious about where their food comes from, it is very important we have educated, young agriculturists with a passion and knowledge of education and who also have a desire to share agriculture with the rest of America.

It is equally important we recognize those who make this opportunity possible for these young agriculturists. Partners such as Alabama Farmers Cooperative, who sponsor the three district competitions; colleges and high schools, who host our events; teachers, who work the events and train the students; and principals and parents, who support the programs on a local level, are all vital components of FFA’s success.

The district eliminations are complete and they are just that, eliminations. Only some moved on, but every FFA member had an impact on the success of the contests. They ventured out of their hometowns to compete at a higher level and meet new FFA members from other parts of the state.

FFA is truly a student-led organization and without our students we would not have the hope of a bright future for agriculture in our great nation.

If you are interested in learning more about Alabama FFA or how you can collaborate or become involved in the country’s largest youth organization, feel free to visit us at www.alabamaffa.org or at www.ffa.org.

Congratulations to all the winners. They will be advancing to the state level CDE in June.


Andy Chamness is the Central District Specialist with the Alabama FFA Association.