High School FFA Students Compete for Area Awards


Todd Kleiboer

Students walk around pens of livestock as they answer questions on their clipboard.

Todd Kleiboer, Web Editor

Over 2,000 agriculturally-minded high school students participated in the Area 5 and 6 Texas FFA Career Development Events (CDEs) across Northeast Texas on April 12, and six events were held on the Texas A&M University-Commerce campus while four were held at the Sulphur Springs Civic Center.

“The programs within the high schools across the United States for vocational or FFA students take the curriculum to help them prepare for various careers in agriculture,” School of Agriculture Director Dr. Randy Harp said. “[The events] run the gamut from Agricultural Sales to Marketing to Farm Business Management to Livestock Evaluation to Floriculture.”

Areas 5 and 6 represent schools from as west as Texarkana and as far east as Decatur, and the 2,000 students that participated locally are only a fraction of the number students participating in all 27 events to qualify for the State contest.

“Texas is so large with its number of students that if every student in Texas that participates in these events went to the state contest, it would be unmanageable,” Dr. Harp said. “We have ten different Areas that divide Texas, and the top 15% of the students in these Area contests will then qualify for the State contest.”

The university hosted the Floriculture and Landscape competitions in the Field House; the Agricultural Sales and Veterinary Science in the Rayburn Student Center; and Agricultural Mechanics and Farm Business Management was held in the Agriculture/Engineering Building.

“[The CDEs] teach competition and also promotes teamwork,” Dr. Harp said. “It also promotes the students’ devotion to something, engaging in something that may lead into one of their careers. It also provides the high school students an opportunity to learn more responsibility, dedication, and discipline.”

However, the hosting of these CDEs is mutually beneficial for both the high school students and the university as the students are exposed to a university that they might possibly attend after graduation.

“These two service areas are extremely huge and are a big portion of Texas A&M-Commerce’s service area,”Dr. Harp said. “If we could bring all of those students from all those places onto the campus in one day and service them for 10 contests, then we’ve hit a homerun in terms of bringing them on-campus and giving them a positive experience. It’s tremendous as far as a recruitment tool.”

The four other events – Livestock, Milk Quality, Poultry, and Dairy Cattle – were held at the Sulphur Springs Civic Center because the university currently does not have the facilities to manage those events, and some events such as Land Judging are held at community college partners like Northeast Texas Community College.

“We want to be able to host all ten events at the university, but our facilities aren’t capable of handling it. That would also bring more students on-campus,” Dr. Harp said. “We also don’t want to take anything anyway from our community college partners because we want them to grow as well.”