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 teachers Caitlyn Walton and Chris Stahl assisted students at the Delaware State Fair this year. A member of FFA at Caesar Rodney high school and majoring in Agricultural Science at the University of Delaware, Walton now enjoys seeing Milford High School students starting the same journey that changed her “entire viewpoint of what could be accomplished” as a young adult.
“In addition to learning more about agriculture, FFA helped to increase my leadership skills,” said Walton. “I would have never become a teacher if it was not for the FFA.”
Starting with the Milford School District in November of last year, Walton says she truly enjoys working with the students, especially the ones that have never been around livestock before. All but two students involved with the MHS FFA this year had no prior experience with caring for animals before they joined the organization. Walton states that the Delaware State Fair allows the students to see the care they give to their animals all year pay off.
“This is a new experience for them, they have cared for their animals since March and now they have a chance to show them off and talk with others that have experience in the agricultural science field,” said Walton. This year at the Delaware State Fair, MHS FFA showed three pigs and five sheep.
Sophomores Bridget Hofnagle and Taylor Wessel, who had never been on a farm prior to last year, were at the fairgrounds this year taking care of their animals which included feeding, cleaning and monitoring their health. “I knew that ag science was going to be a lot of work but I can say it is more than I expected,” said Hofnagle. “It is a lot of fun though and worth all of the work.” Hofnagle hopes to become a veterinarian after high school.
Wessel, who wants to become a surgeon, says that this week at the Fair as well as the overall experience of FFA has helped her to become prepared for the challenging academic road ahead. “I have never done anything like this before,” said Wessel. “I am outside of my comfort zone and being this involved has allowed me to develop as a student.”
Agricultural Science teacher Chris Stahl states that regardless of the career students seek after secondary school, FFA will help them to be successful. “There are some students that their biggest responsibility is cleaning their room before they join the FFA,” said Stahl. “They have stepped up, learned what it really takes to care for these animals.”
In addition to caring for the animals while at the Fair, students challenge their rhetorical skills as they share their experiences with judges and professional in the agricultural sector. The Poultry Judging Team, including Rebeca Castaneda, Patrick Donovan and Sage Culver placed 1st in the State. The Agriculture Mechanics Team, including Dalton Messick, Hunter Roop, Curtis Sharp and Jacob Wiley placed 2nd in the State. The Forestry Team, including Nick Wright, Cameron Maule, Jared Maule and Jaineil Johnson placed 2nd in the State. These teams will be representing Delaware at the Big E in Springfield, Massachusetts. For a full list of team and individual awards, click HERE.
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