High schools from all over the state came to the University of Missouri on March 2 to attend the FFA Leadership Development Contest.
The Mizzou Collegiate FFA Chapter and the Missouri FFA Association hosted the eighth annual Leadership Development Contest at the Animal Science Research Center and Agricultural Engineering building.
“I definitely bring kids back for the experience,” said Keriann Brandt, Monroe City FFA Adviser. “This is one of the first LDEs that we go to, and we’re from an area where our actual competitions are a lot earlier than others, so we try to get them the practice as soon as we can. And being from Mizzou it just feels like coming home.”
With more than 250 students, 30 agricultural educators and 45 Mizzou volunteers, the contest was an elaborate production. Students participated in contests from FFA knowledge to prepared and extemporaneous (impromptu) public speaking, job interviews to parliamentary procedure, and also an agricultural issues forum. When students attend practice contests, they get a glimpse of how contests run and receive feedback on how to improve before attending their next contest. If they place at area and district contests, they will move on to the Missouri State FFA Convention in April. Area contests involve a small number of surrounding high schools, while district contests include an entire state region (Central or Northeast districts, for example).
“Knowing that students will have the opportunity to improve their skills with this contest makes me happy to come home for it every year,” said Jill Chapman, 2014 Mizzou alum and FFA Adviser at El Dorado Springs. “I enjoy sharing this opportunity with my students who probably have never been to the university. It shows how great of a school CAFNR really is.”
The Mizzou contest gave many local FFA members a glimpse of the university, and Mizzou volunteers were able to provide information about agricultural clubs and organizations the contestants could participate in if they choose to come to MU. The exposure has the potential to bring many successful students to Mizzou in the future.
“Going to the Mizzou contest has always been one of my favorites,” said Holly Enowski, a senior at Eldon High School and FFA member. Enowski plans to attend Mizzou in the fall. “It gives us not only an insight into the college and the types of opportunities available through CAFNR, but it shows us some of the different organizations.”
Enowski said that she saw many Collegiate FFA, Sigma Alpha, and Collegiate Farm Bureau members helping with and judging the contests.
“It’s cool as a high school senior to see that those opportunities are available beginning your freshman year,” Enowski said. “Being able to talk to students was one of my favorite aspects. I was pretty split between [attending] Mizzou and another state university, but after going to the contest and seeing how many freshman were active … I know Mizzou is where I belong.”