By Aaron Beaubouef, FFA faculty sponsor
Four members of the Natchitoches Central FFA Chapter accomplished what no team from Louisiana has ever done: finish first in a National FFA Career Development Event. They placed first overall at the National FFA Agronomy contest at the 89th National FFA Convention Oct. 19-22 in Indianapolis, Ind.
“Their achievement is the result of a year of training. They practiced every day during school hours and five days a week after school, dating back to last November,” said NCHS Agriscience teacher and FFA Advisor Aaron Beaubouef. “The team also practiced during the summer months and attended research field days hosted by the LSU AgCenter to learn more about modern crop production. The team of Preston Tibbett, Bradley Scott, Dylan Daniels and Brooklyn Hampton are one of only 16 teams from Louisiana to ever place in the top four of a National FFA Contest and one of only five teams from Natchitoches Parish to achieve such an honor.”
Students competing in the Agronomy contest must identify over 100 plant and seed samples, 75 pieces of equipment, 35 insects and how to diagnose plant diseases. They must become proficient in grain grading, seed analysis, soil fertility recommendations, plant diagnostics, commodity evaluation and must be able to answer any question about crop production on a written exam. The Agronomy contest is the most comprehensive agricultural competition offered by the National FFA Organization.
Preston Tibbett was first place individually, followed by teammates Bradley Scott (second place individual), Dylan Daniels (fourth place individual) and Brooklyn Hampton (seventh place individual). All four members finished in the top 7 out of 152 students competing from all across the nation. Such an achievement places them in the top 5 percent of all students that competed. Each member earned a $1,000 scholarship.
“The accomplishments that NCHS FFA members have at the national level are even more impressive when you consider how much of a disadvantage they are at when preparing for the contest,” Beaubouef said. “The students from the Midwestern states that traditionally do well in the Agronomy competition are typically students that live on farms or whose parents are crop scouts, agronomists, plant pathologists, etc. Many other states have professional agronomists come in and train their teams. The students at Natchitoches Central typically have no such advantage; they start with zero background knowledge about row crop agriculture and out work their competition to achieve success. Also, Natchitoches Central’s team had only their FFA advisors to train them whereas every other successful team in the national contest has a professional in the field of agronomy or a faculty member with no teaching responsibilities coaching the team. No group of high school students in the country learned more about agriculture or trained harder for this competition than Preston, Bradley, Dylan and Brooklyn this year.”
NCHS FFA Champs from left are Bradley Scott, Preston Tibbett, Brooklyn Hampton and Dylan Daniels, with their Advisor Aaron Beaubouef.