Student Talent Shines at Exhibitions and Livestock Show

by JODY WITTER, Polk County FFA Federation Officer

The role of youth in agriculture has become increasingly important, as many are being raised as the next generation of agriculture leaders. This month, students were able to display their knowledge and abilities at numerous exhibitions, including Career Development Events (CDE), as well as the Central Florida Youth In Agriculture (CFYIA) livestock show. 

This is the fourth year the annual CFYIA show has been held, and WOW what a turnout. The schedule consisted of three days full of grooming, showing, and selling animals along with smaller industry-based contests that displayed students’ technical skills. On the first day, March 21, family and friends witnessed a wide range of cattle enter the arena for judging, whether they were heifers built for optimal breeding or market steers that would soon spend their days in freezers and filling bellies. 

The second day, March 22, focused on the student-produced swine projects, where exhibitors drove their market hogs to the grand champion finish line in showmanship and market class, later following with the Breeding Gilt show. These exhibitors showed up and showed out with their performance abilities allowing for an amazing fair. CFYIA was even able to introduce Ag Mechanics and Fabrication entries this year, where students worked to create masterpieces out of wood and metal that would later be sold on March 23, AUCTION DAY!  A big congratulations to all exhibitors, parents, and buyers are due as we thank them for their contributions to the 2024 Central Florida Youth In Agriculture Show. 

On the competitive side of FFA, there are many accomplishments to be named, as students studied for months in preparation for their contest to come out on top and have a chance to compete at the next level. 

From evaluating plants and their placement within a landscape, to pest and plant ID; judges and proctors alike could see growth in the competitiveness and knowledge of these students at the state level. Congratulations to George Jenkins Sr. FFA for their state win in the state Nursery and Landscape CDE! The team consisted of Charleigh Wood, Brooklyn Mims, Jody Witter, and Kacie Anderson; coached by Advisor, Kyle Carlton.

Later in the month we watched students receive acknowledgement for their SAEs or Supervised Agricultural Experiences. Each of these students will receive a $100 check at the Polk County Federation Banquet, which will be held May 7.  Congratulations to the following students for their accomplishments:

  • Polk County Star Discovery Award Winner – Zibe Stein, Bok North Academy 
  • Polk County Star Greenhand Award Winner – Nathan Boyd, Frostproof Senior
  • Polk County Star Chapter Award Winner – Haylie Stephens, Lake Gibson Senior

Polk County was able to hold a county level Ornamental Horticulture Demonstration Event. This is a competition designed for students to showcase their knowledge and planning of various horticultural practices through an elaborate demonstration. There are multiple categories to enter, whether it be presenting a consumer product or creating a centerpiece. The following students are the winners for the county OH Demo contests, who will later compete at the state level, on April 26. 

  • OH Demo: High School Artistic Arrangement Results- Haines City
  • OH Demo: Middle School Artistic Arrangement Results- Dundee Ridge
  • OH Demo: High School Con. Use Results- Lake Wales
  • OH Demo: Middle School Con. Use Results- Kathleen Middle
  • OH Demo: High School Landscape Results- Haines City
  • OH Demo: Middle School Landscape Results- Dundee Ridge
  • OH Demo: High School Marketing Results- Winter Haven
  • OH Demo: Middle School Marketing Results- Dundee Ridge
  • OH Demo: High School Production Results- Lake Wales
  • OH Demo: Middle School Production Results- Bartow Middle

The involvement of kids within the agriculture industry gives hope for the future of agribusiness and commodity production. Regardless of whether these students pursue agricultural occupations, they walk away with practical experiences, strong work ethic, and so much more, forever involved in the industry either as a consumer or producer. 

The investment of your time and dedication toward your competitions and projects have paid off. Congratulations to all students! Best of luck to all representing Polk County at the State and National level, the agricultural industry applauds you.

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