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franklin county times

PCHS, RBHS receive recognition at state FFA convention

High school students from Phil Campbell and Red Bay took part in the Alabama State FFA Convention June 7-10, joining fellow students from across the state to compete, receive awards, hear from guest speakers and tour sites like the Auburn University meat lab, beef unit and poultry technology center and local farming operations.

Recent PCHS graduate Colt Thomas received the State Star Farmer award, an accomplishment PCHS FFA sponsor Caleb Beason described as “the highest accolade an FFA member can receive when competing against other FFA members,” noting it involves “a very strenuous process.”

He explained each application is based on a student’s Supervised Agricultural Experience – a project related to the agriculture the student undertakes outside of regular classroom time.

In Thomas’ case, that involved producing commercial and purebred cattle using the latest tools and technologies, including Expected Progeny Differences and feed calculators, and spending a significant amount of time in the show ring exhibiting cattle.

“I was surprised how I did,” said Thomas. “Within the state there are a lot of great youth that work just as hard as I do toward their FFA SAE. It requires a lot of dedication, responsibility, patience and willingness – not to mention a lot of paperwork.”

Beason said Thomas’ hard work has really paid off.

“Colt is a special and unique young man whose passion for agriculture is seen throughout his whole life,” explained Beason. “His accomplishments are enormous, and I’m proud of his many successes.”

Rep. Jamie Kiel attended the opening ceremony.

“Phil Campbell and Red Bay represented our county well at the State FFA Convention,” explained Kiel. “Caleb Beason and Jarod Massey do a great job making sure that their students have an opportunity to learn a skill and compete on the state level.

“I also appreciate Franklin County School Board member Kacey Johnston accompanying the group and supporting the students. It was a great opportunity for all of the students to be exposed to great leaders from across the state and nation.”

Red Bay High School FFA sponsor Massey said 21 RBHS students attended, with teams competing in Quiz Bowl, Conduct of a Chapter Meeting and Horse Evaluation. The Quiz Bowl team placed fifth, the Horse Evaluation team placed sixth, and Conduct of a Chapter Meeting placed fourth and received a banner.

He noted that one of his students, Maddie Pearson, was the top scorer in the state for Horse Evaluation.

“I had an amazing time at the Alabama FFA State Convention,” said Pearson. “It was a great experience and tons of fun. My teammates and I put in a lot of hard work to prepare for competition. We spent weeks studying and learning how to evaluate horses.”

Pearson said she was shocked when she found out she had the highest score in the state. “I wasn’t expecting that at all.”

She said a lot went into getting ready and competing. “We took a 50-question test and judged four different classes of horses, including two performance classes, Western Pleasure and Hunter Under Saddle, and then we had to judge two halter classes, stock-type mares and Hunter-conformation geldings,” she explained. “The judges gave us two classes to give oral reasons why we placed the horses the way we did. There were four horses in each class, and we had to place them first through fourth.”