FFA Career Development Event at Long Acres Ranch

Agriculture itself changes very little. However, as we learn more, along with tools and technology advancement, our approach to agriculture changes. The next generation will build upon the current generation as it has always been done since the beginning of time to advance these agricultural changes. The Future Farmers of America (FFA) understand that more than most because of what they do and where they are headed. FFA students learn many different agricultural related items within their class to better themselves, and in turn, the future. Career Development Events (CDE) were in part created to put the student’s knowledge to the test and challenge oneself to grow in a discipline. In late February, Texas FFA students had the opportunity to prove their knowledge at the Seven Lakes CDE Invitational held at Long Acres Ranch.



National FFA Organization Connections

Future Farmers of America is a national student organization offered to primarily high school students who are interested in agriculture, leadership, and teamwork. FFA students are exposed to a broad array of agriculture related opportunities through their school that provides them with career readiness. They also have the opportunity to meet professionals in their field of interest. In some instances, by the time a student graduates, they can earn a certification or two to start a good paying job straight out of high school. All of this is the result of a dedicated ag teacher and the hard work of the student.

FFA CDE Invitationals

The FFA students participating in CDEs such as the Seven Lakes CDE Invitational, benefit by developing and honing skills necessary to achieve a future career or college education. Across the state, various invitationals are held with different events that are suited for the venue of the CDE. Some of the events include agronomy, cotton, dairy cattle, forestry, meats, poultry, and veterinary science. The invitationals are precursors to the state and national competition.

FFA School Participation

A total of 50 schools brought 487 students to Long Acres Ranch in Richmond, Texas to compete in the Seven Lakes FFA CDE. The events offered were Entomology with 88 participants, Floriculture with 138 participants, Wildlife with 124 participants, Land with 57 participants, and Homesite with 80 participants. The campuses that participated in the events were A&M Consolidated, Alief, Boling, Bellville, Boling, Brenham, Bridgeland, Burton, Central Heights, Cinco Ranch, Clear Falls, Cleveland, Columbia, Cypress Springs, El Campo, Flatonia, Foster, George Bush, Harper, Jordan, Katy, Kempner, Klein, Klein Cain, Klein Forest, Klein Oak, Livingston, Louise, Madison, Magnolia, Magnolia West, Normangee, Oak Ridge, Onalaska, Porter, Royal, Rusk, Schulenburg, Sealy, Seven Lakes, Sterling, Katy Taylor, Tomball, Tomball Memorial, Tompkins, Travis, Waller, Westfield, Wharton, The Woodlands and Yorktown. Of these campuses, Harper High School traveled the farthest, trekking 216 miles to get to the ranch. Cumulatively these FFA advisors traveled 2,418 miles to bring their students for this experience!

Explanation of Events

  • Entomology: Students apply the fundamentals of entomology and develop skills in identifying common insects and their significance to people and agriculture.
  • Floriculture: Classroom knowledge and skills are applied as students identify and evaluate cut flowers, house plants, flowering plants, floral designs and complete an exam that tests their knowledge of floral design, propagation as well as preparation of floral and foliage products for sale.
  • Land: Members of land evaluation teams judge sites based on characteristics of the soil and observations of landscape conditions, then recommend land treatments considering factors such as soil characteristics, vegetative conditions and planned use for the site.
  • Homesite: Introduces students to non-agronomic use of land including, but not limited to, the suitability of various types of land for building sites, home sanitation systems, impoundment structures, lawns and other construction considerations.
  • Wildlife: Students apply the information gained through enrollment in the agricultural science wildlife management course to demonstrate and identify plant species, proper habitat management practices, safety procedures, game laws, management techniques as well as compass and pacing skills.


All for One and One for All

The students did a great job in the events and their advisors worked hard to ensure their success. There were also many wonderful people involved in making the Seven Lakes CDE an amazing invitational. We were grateful to have had the following superintendents and their assistants: Fran Steele - Fort Bend County Master Gardeners; Dan Lawlor - Fort Bend County Master Naturalist; Scott Cardenas, Stacey Kloesel, and Gary Harris - USDA NRCS; Jon McLeod and Todd Pilcik - TPWD Wildlife Biologists; Barry Eversole - Texas Game Warden; John Few – Fort Bend County AgriLife Extension; and Larry Hysmith - Texas 4-H Natural Resource Specialist.

The host for the invitational was Seven Lakes High School of Katy Independent School District. The Seven Lakes High School advisors, Katy Sheffield, Blake Godwin, Joe Bochat, and Morgan Ognoskie sponsored the event and created an excellent contest to the benefit of an amazing learning opportunity and experience. As a result, $30,000 worth of scholarships were awarded to qualifying top placing seniors at this event. Long Acres Ranch staff including Ranch Manager October Smith, Natural Resource Education Coordinator Scott Lightle, Guest & Volunteer Coordinator Jennifer Cheesman, and Administrative Coordinator Mellisa Rodriguez, as well as Program Coordinator James Page with Texas A&M Natural Resource Institute worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help make the event a success.

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