BY JOHN LEIDNER
STuDen TS In GRADeS 6 through 12 are invited
to take part in six competitive events during this
year’s Sunbelt Ag expo. These are new events, and
are aimed at challenging and educating young
people in middle school and high school grades.
These youngsters of today will become customers
of expo exhibitors in the years ahead.
The competitive challenge categories at this
year’s show will include Floral Design, and identification contests for Agricultural Mechanics/
Tools, horticulture, Forestry, Wildlife, and Animal
These activities will take place Wednesday,
Oct. 17, starting at 8: 45 a.m., and lasting until
1: 45 p.m. Most of these events will be in the
R. W. Griffin building at location D- 7. R. W. Griffin
is the expo’s official fertilizer company, and is a
sponsor of the annual Sunbelt expo field day
held during July.
Students from all states are invited to participate. Awards, sponsored by Country Financial, will be given in each challenge to the top
three finishers in the junior and senior divisions.
Awards will also be given to the club or chapter
with the best overall finish, and to the state with
the best overall finish.
“We invite students to join us as we salute
healthy competition, while they learn about
the latest agricultural technology, research,
and equipment at north America’s Premier Farm
Show®, the Sunbelt Ag expo,” says becca Turner,
expo vice president of marketing.
Chris Corzine, agriculture education director for the central region of Georgia, has been
among those planning these additional competitive events. he notes that school districts
are more likely to approve of students attending
expo if the students are also going to be participating in educational contests during their trip.
Students in grades 6 through 9 will compete
in the Junior Division and those in grades 10
through 12 will compete in the Senior Division.
They will be allowed to compete as individuals
or as part of a chapter or club. Also, each student
can participate in as many competitive challenges as they choose.
Students are invited to check the Sunbelt
expo website, www.sunbeltexpo.com, to obtain
additional information and to sign up for the
contests. expo is working to allow students and
their sponsors to register to participate in the
contests when they buy their expo tickets online
from the expo website.
While the competitive events are based
on contests from the FFA Career Development events (CDes), it isn’t necessary to be an
FFA member to participate. Students who are
members of 4-h or other organizations, or who
are members of no organizations, are invited
to take part. home-schooled students may also
enjoy taking part in these competitive events.
For the floral design competition, students
are first given a scenario, and then have a set
time to design and put together a flower
arrangement that meets the scenario requirements. For instance, they might be given a range
of cut flowers and plants to use, from which
they are told to make a wrist corsage for use in
The identification contests for Ag Mechan-ics/Tools, horticulture, Forestry, Wildlife, and
Animal Science are all similar in that students
are asked to correctly identify plant or animal
photos, tools, supplies and equipment, and
perhaps diseases or pests that are important to
these agricultural industries.
In the Animal Science contest, for example,
students may be asked to identify breeds represented in photos of beef cattle, dairy cattle,
horses, and even rabbits.
In the Wildlife contest, they may be asked
to identify not only photos of wild animals, but
also photos of plants and shrubs that comprise
important wildlife habitat. The Wildlife Identification competition also is aimed at helping
students to gain an understanding of the principles of sound deer management and pond
While these contests are not limited to
FFA members, the expo does extend a cordial
welcome to FFA members who traditionally
attend the farm show’s second day, Wednesday,
each year. expo has welcomed FFA members
since the first farm show was held at Moultrie in
1978. Members of 4-h clubs and home school
groups are invited to attend as well.
FFA began in 1928, and girls first became
members in 1969. In 1988, to reflect the
growing diversity of agriculture, the organiza-
tion changed its name from Future Farmers of
America to the national FFA Organization. earlier
this year, Georgia FFA held its 90th annual state
convention. A new pilot program in Georgia
will help determine the potential of agricultural
education for students in the state’s elementary
schools. nationally, the FFA has more than 8,500
local chapters and counts more than 600,000
young people as members.
Additional opportunities will be hosted by
John Deere Wednesday, Oct. 17. Students are
invited to attend youth seminars at the John
Deere exhibit at 11 a.m. and 1: 30 p.m., focusing on career opportunities and precision ag.
Attending students will leave with a special gift
provided by John Deere.
last year, expo hosted a Georgia FFA Ag
Mechanics Project contest that was sponsored
by Farm Credit. Students brought to expo their
creations of wood and metal projects that they
had made in their school shops. These items
were displayed in the Farm Credit exhibit (
location b- 9). Farm Credit will be sponsoring a similar
exhibition and contest this year.
The expanded activities and contests
planned for youth attending expo this year are
built on the success of the Ag Mechanics Project
contest last year.
One expo FFA tradition that goes back a
number of years is the annual tire auction held
at the Titan/Goodyear exhibit (location A- 3) to
benefit the Georgia FFA Foundation. last year,
the auction raised some $28,000, and over the
years funds have totaled more than $300,000.
The foundation uses these funds to help
cover travel expenses and provide recognition
for FFA members taking part in career development and leadership development events.
The funds are especially helpful in covering the
expenses for Georgia FFA members taking part
in national competitive events.
This year, the tire auction will take place
Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 1 p.m. at the Titan/
Goodyear exhibit. Members of the Georgia FFA
Foundation will be present at the Titan/Goodyear exhibit Tuesday to answer any questions
regarding the auction, the foundation, and the
expanded opportunities for youth at 2018 expo