Students learn about careers, compete in contest

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas State University's First National Bank Arena was filled with high schools students from all over Region 8 on Wednesday.

They were there to compete in the annual Eastern District FFA Career Development Contest.

Bud Kennedy, Associate Dean of the College of Agriculture Engineering Technology, said there are a lot of categories in a lot of different areas to choose from.

"We have several contests going on simultaneously," Kennedy said. "The students come in and they have trained for this competition. Some of our contests are poultry, landscape, electricity, ag mechanics, livestock judging, horse judging, forestry and many more. So, these students spend lots of hours preparing with the help of their ag teachers to get ready for this event. Some of the top teams will move on to the state contest."

Kennedy said it's all about taking what they've learned in a classroom and putting it into practice.

"They get an idea about certain things they might be doing in certain jobs," Kennedy said. "For example, if they're working in a poultry industry, what we do is to train them to look at and evaluate poultry. To look at defects and understand the quality that consumers are looking for. In terms of when they go to the store to buy poultry, they want to see a certain type of chicken that looks like it should look without defects. So, they're trying to look for defects and downgrade those products so they don't get into the grocery store. So, that's one thing they do. They learn electricity. They're trained to learn about circuits and how that works. And so, what it does in all the areas is really help them gain appreciation for different industries. It might even peak their interest in a certain area and they might want to pursue that as a career when they graduate."

ASU Senior and Ag Ed major, Tyler Moody, said he participated in the event during his high school days.

As a college student at ASU, he's now helping make the competition a reality.

"I'm kind of the go-to guy," Moody said. "If someone has a question, I try to get it answered. I try to make sure everyone is where they're supposed to be. Try to get things going as smoothly as I can."

Moody said this is a huge learning experience for students.

"This competition is a great opportunity for students," Moody said. "It's also a great opportunity for future teachers like myself. As a high school student, this was one of my favorite parts of FFA. It was a great learning experience for me and I enjoyed every minute of it. It taught me a lot of team building skills. It's not only you are competing. It's your whole team. If one isn't doing good, then the whole team isn't doing good."

Kennedy said it's also an opportunity to look for any future Red Wolves.

"We look at this as a great opportunity to have students on campus," Kennedy said. "It's a great recruiting opportunity and just getting them exposure to A-State. Hopefully, they'll be Red Wolves one of these days!"

Around 1,300 students attended the competition.

The state contest will be in Fayetteville at the University of Arkansas.

For more information about the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Technology at ASU, click here.

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