May 2015
Youth Matters

Learning the Basics

Students from around the state attended spring judging clinics hosted at Auburn University’s College of Agriculture Feb. 10-11.  

Hundreds of high school and middle school students attend Auburn’s Spring Judging Clinics.

Students looking to sharpen their agricultural skills and gain knowledge of higher education opportunities evaluated their options during spring judging clinics hosted by Auburn University’s College of Agriculture Feb. 10-11.

"Our spring judging clinics give us a chance to have high school and some middle school students on campus to train them and help them prepare for their upcoming FFA Career Development Events," said Amanda Martin, College of Agriculture student recruitment and alumni relations coordinator.

The event is sponsored by the Alabama Farmers Federation, Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, Alabama Poultry & Egg Association, Alabama Horse Council and Wayne Farms.

Four Alabama Farmers Federation divisions - Alabama Soybean Producers, Alabama Pork Producers, Alabama Meat Goat & Sheep Producers, and Alabama Wheat & Feed Grain Producers - donated more than $3,500 to the judging clinics this year.

"This is an excellent educational opportunity for students to come to Auburn and learn about the commodities we deal with," said Guy Hall, Federation pork division director. "It’s not just good for students; but it’s good for teachers. It allows both groups to learn about multiple facets of agriculture under one roof."

Martin said, since its inception in 2010, the clinics have grown from 200 attendees to 800.

The clinics, or CDEs, at this year’s event included soil texture, livestock, dairy, nursery/landscape, forestry, meats, floriculture, poultry, horse and parliamentary procedure.

State FFA Sentinel and White Plans High School senior Colton Farley said livestock CDEs have helped him in competition, but they have a more practical use, too.

"I live on a farm, and we raise five different species of livestock, so judging livestock is also going to help me on the farm," he said. "When I look for a breeding animal, I’m going to have to look for the fundamentals of a good breeding animal. You want one that’s structurally sound; one that will last longer on a farm than most animals so you can have a little more longevity of her breeding cycle."

While students get two days out of school for the clinics, Sylvania High School Agriscience teacher Joey Haymon said those absences yield positive gains inside the classroom.

"It’s a good opportunity to learn the basics of the competitions, so it makes it easier for us to teach it when we get back to the classroom," he said.

For state FFA Treasurer and Geraldine High School senior Cody Maddox, new clinics such as parliamentary procedure showcase the diverse career fields available to agriculture students.

"My goal in life is to become an attorney, so parliamentary procedure will be used a lot when I’m an attorney," Maddox said. "I grew up on a farm and I have 16 head of beef cattle, so I have an interest in agriculture. I plan to major in agricultural business economics with a minor in political science, and I plan on specializing in ag law."

A.J. Watson is the Ag Communications Specialist for Alfa.