by CHARLEIGH WOOD, Polk County FFA Federation President
The month of March has been nothing but fun for those young and old in the agricultural community. Starting off the month with Agri-Fest, an event hosted and put together by members of the local agriculture industry and Polk County Public Schools, more than 4,800 fourth-graders were able to gain knowledge and experience through hands-on activities with experts from different local commodities of agriculture. From the production of citrus and beef to agricultural mechanics and drone use, students were able to grow their knowledge on how they get the food they eat, as well as who is working diligently to make sure they get this food.
For the duration of Agri-Fest, the Polk County FFA Federation held the county Nursery and Landscape Contest at Hollis Garden, where both high school and middle school students were able to practice and prepare themselves for the state contest that would follow a few weeks later. The top team from the high school level came from the Auburndale FFA Chapter, and Westwood Middle FFA Chapter topped the middle school level. The following week, the county Land Judging contest was held at Lake Gibson High School where students had the opportunity to judge four soil pits to help them get ready for the state contest at the end of the month. The contest was won by the members from George Jenkins Sr. FFA. Later in the month, the Polk County Federation will host an Ornamental Horticulture Demonstration competition in order to prepare Polk County teams that will be competing at states.
To wrap up the month, hundreds of 4-H and FFA members from across Polk County had the opportunity to show off their beef and swine projects at the Central Florida Youth in Agriculture Show and Sale. Kids ranging from ages 8 and younger to 18 years old were not only able to participate in the unique experience of showing a livestock animal, but they also received a plethora of extravagant awards and prizes for their hard work and effort inside and outside of the show ring. Exhibitors were awarded banners, buckles, coolers, chairs, speakers, backpacks, and more. A Livestock Judging competition was also held at CFYIA for exhibitors to work on their evaluation skills and to help prepare teams for the state contest that will take place April 15 in Gainesville.
The CFYIA committee worked long days and nights to make sure that the show was both fun and educational for all involved. They put their time and effort into making it as smooth as possible for exhibitors, parents, and spectators. Thanks to the numerous sponsorships, donations, and community support, CFYIA was able to organize a memorable show, and the exhibitors were able to successfully market off their projects to both local supporters and those who have traveled far distances to see how amazing the show really is.
Although the month was busy, March was not one to forget. Between Agri-Fest, county FFA competitions, and a memorable Central Florida Youth in Agriculture Show and Sale, there were many opportunities provided to Polk County Students who could be, or could one day be, interested in a career in the industry of agriculture.