Taking Top Honors at the State FFA Citrus Career Development Event
Florida leads the country in citrus, producing 63 percent of the total United States production alone. Leading the state is Polk County, with 90,050 acres of citrus production. With Polk’s number one ranking, it’s no wonder that this year’s Florida FFA state-winning citrus team also is from the county.
Florida FFA hosts an annual Citrus Career Development Event (CDE), which challenges students to excel in the industry that is so prominent in our state. Students are required to take a general knowledge exam that covers anything from disease control and greenhouse production of rootstock trees, to commercial harvesting methods and everything in between. Additionally, students must identify 38 varieties of citrus, 35 pests and predators, 27 weeds, and 32 diseases and disorders that affect citrus production in our state. The contest consists of live samples that have been collected and displayed by leaders within the citrus industry.
Held December 5, 2012, at the FFA’s Leadership Training Center in Haines City, 27 teams traveled from all across the state to compete in this year’s event. Members of the Kathleen Senior FFA Chapter were there to compete as well. Team member Thomas Farris says, “I was really looking forward to competing in this year’s event because we put so much effort and time into studying, and I really wanted to see if our hard work would pay off.”
The contest began around 9:30 a.m. and didn’t end until noon. The students found the event to be extremely challenging.
When the results were posted, Kathleen Senior FFA came out on top. Team member Lexi Sanchez received the “high individual” score at the competition, surpassing 97 other contestants.
Sanchez recalls, “I hoped we’d win, but I never imagined I would be high individual — I was so excited when I found out.”
Other members of the team weren’t far behind; Michael Gary, Thomas Farris, and Nicole Green all finished in the top five overall.
Other Polk County teams finishing in the top 10 were George Jenkins High School, which finished in third place, and Haines City High School, which finished sixth overall. Congratulations to this year’s FFA state citrus champions — Kathleen Senior FFA.
story by KEITHA HALL