NEWLAND — Local high school FFA chapters congregated at the Avery County Cooperative Extension offices at Heritage Park for a mock competition on Sept. 5.
The competition recreates a small number of the competitions at regional events. The regional events normally have a few dozen competitions, and this mock variety recreated three: plant identification, tool identification and forestry.
Avery, Watauga, Freedom, Hampton and Cloudland high schools all congregated for the event. The advisors for most of the schools are former Avery County students.
The identification competitions consist of the students lining up in front of displays of different tools and plants with a time limit to determine what each item was.
For the forestry competition, students estimated tree diameter and identified some local trees.
The tools were common implements found on different farms, ranging from wire cutters to cattle dehorners. Students lined up with forms in front of each plant or tool to be identified and marked the name of what they were standing in front of.
Avery Advisor Gretchen Blackburn said the fun competition lined up well with the county fair which was running at the same time. Some of the students who were participating were also showing animals and helping with the fair.
Students got to spend some time at the fair after the competition.
FFA began as the organization Future Farmers of Virginia, later renamed to Future Farmers of America. These days the organization no longer focuses only on farming.
“There’s a whole lot more to FFA,” Blackburn said.
These days, the official name is National FFA Organization, and the organization supports agriculture education for middle and high school students. Avery Middle School recently chartered its own FFA chapter.
The organization traces its roots back to 1925 at Virginia Tech. It became a national organization just three years later. Today, FFA has more than half a million members and more than 8,000 chapters.