NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Thousands of high school students belonging to Future Farmers of America converged on Nacogdoches Tuesday for a variety of competitions.
East Texas News found out why so many high school students choose FFA for an extra curriculum activity.
First the competitors are herded in. Then the livestock. Just under 3,000 Future Farmers of America members from East, Deep East, and Central Texas competed in a practice invitational hosted by Stephen F. Austin State University.
"We have a lot of activities going on today throughout the campus including poultry judging, livestock judging, horse judging, soils, forestry judging," said Michael Coker.
They're called Career Development Events. Each is designed to help a member prepare for a career in agriculture.
"It gives them self-confidence," said Dan Rosario, the leader of the Hudson FFA chapter. "It teaches them how to be a real good team member. Develop a really good work ethic."
Those are all useful skills for students when they are applying for scholarships.
"It just shapes you," said Erin Haley, a Teague FFA member. You learn responsibility from everything you do."
Haley plans to be a pre-vet student and work on Australian race tracks. Not every student may enter agriculture professionally, but the knowledge can stay with them a lifetime. Livestock judging is helpful when buying and selling a small herd of anything. It can also lead, along the way, to a part- or full-time job.
"It's a very helpful thing to do," said Justin Thomson, a Central Heights FFA member. "It's something a lot of people around here are able to do and they're able to do it well. And they have success doing it."
Even getting eye to eye with a chicken tender will be helpful one day when selecting similar foods for their families They'll know what to shop for.
FFA claims the career development events answer the question, "When will I use this knowledge in the real world?'
After Tuesday's practice, the FFA students will go on to regional, state and, national competitions.