For ten days every summer, Harrington, DE hosts the Delaware State Fair. In addition to the rides, food, and concerts, hundreds of FFA members from across the state of Delaware head to the fair to compete in various competitions. A group of students and advisors representing the Milford FFA Chapter were present again this year as they showed livestock, competed in Career Development Events and entered various entries such as vegetables, grains, and other projects.
Every morning at 5:30am members of the Milford FFA were at the livestock barns to begin the daily care for their show animals including pigs and sheep. Milford FFA advisor and Animal Science teacher Judith Bruns assists students at the Delaware State Fair each year and states that in addition to becoming a classroom grade, these competitions are rewarding for many active members of the organization.
“It’s a way to reward the students as they have done a lot of work over the winter to prepare for Fair Week,” commented Bruns. “It also gives the students a new perspective of their work as judges critique them instead of their teacher. We can tend to be a little isolated in the barn at school and the fair competitions allow the students to see other students from other schools and connect their work to real experiences.”
Ms. Bruns acknowledges that the new agricultural barn, built at the Milford High School last year, has been a great teaching tool for not only the members of FFA but for all of the students that are enrolled in the Animal Science curriculum. The agricultural barn allows students to temporarily house livestock for educational purposes and experience the life cycle of several animals at once.
“The Ag barn has been amazing, it has been a long time in the making but worth the wait,” said Bruns. “In the past, students would work with the animals outside. Rain, low temperatures and sunlight would force us to cancel instruction. Now students can work with the animals during rain, cold weather and at night.”
FFA President Angela Kalesis was present at the Delaware State Fair on Wednesday, July 23 as a group of students prepared for their final competition as the showed sheep. In addition to showing livestock and participating in education competitions, many students also volunteered at booths for other organizations. Kalesis volunteered her time at the University of Delaware Creamery truck, The Grange, Children’s Barn Yard and the Farm Bureau booth. Becoming more involved with other organizations and in her own school since joining FFA, Kalesis says that the organization has helped her to become a better person.
“FFA has made me a better leader, teammate and more cooperative with others,” said Kalesis. “Now as President I want to instill those qualities in new FFA members. I try to teach them how important it is to be involved and how much they can learn by being involved.”
Past President Colby Miller was one of the students preparing sheep on Wednesday for competition. On his fifth day of working from 5am to 11pm at the fairgrounds, Miller was still excited about the final competition and acknowledged that the organization has been rewarding over the years.
“It has been stressful but always very rewarding. At the end of the day you can see that you make an impact,” said Miller. “FFA has really opened different pathways for me including public speaking and overall confidence.”
Miller enjoys the experience of the newly constructed agricultural barn and states that it has exposed more students to Animal Science as more activities can take place on school grounds. Contrary to popular belief, many of the Milford FFA students do not have a family farm or prior experience with showing animals before they join the organization through the Milford School District.
“It teaches students life lessons,” commented Bruns. I can guarantee that for the kids that have not shown animals before it is an eyeopening experience for them to see how much time and responsibility it takes to raise and care for animals.”