Future Farmers Shine Bright

Left to right: Jacob Bjerknes, Ethan Scofield, Katelyn Bullock, Robert Henry. Photos courtesy Margie Chase.

By Susan Nolan

The future of agriculture in southern Anne Arundel County appears to be in good hands. 

A team of students from Southern High School in Harwood traveled to Indianapolis in October to compete in the 95th Future Farmers of America Conference. They returned with awards in multiple categories.

As an FFA chapter, they received the National 2-Star Chapter Award and a Silver ranking for their Career Development Event. Four students were recognized for individual achievement: 2022 graduates Robert Henry and Jacob Bjerknes, and junior Katelyn Bullock received silver awards; senior Ethan Scofield came home with a bronze. 

A national FFA award is not an easy win. Individuals and chapters are only eligible for national awards after winning on a state level. 

The Career Development Event is a multi-component agricultural business test in which students use math skills and must show a high level of financial literacy. “This year we spent more time studying and went into the test feeling somewhat confident,” says Bullock. “The individual test was the hardest test I’ve ever taken.” She notes the need for preparation and coaching. 

SHS FFA students Ethan Scofield (center) and Katelyn Bullock (right) accept awards at the national conference.

Despite how grueling the competition can be, Bullock is looking forward to attending next year. She hopes to participate in the Ag Issues competition. “Our chapter is currently trying to get together a team to compete in the Leadership Development Event.”

While at the convention, chapter advisor and Southern High School teacher Dr. Stacy Eckels was appointed as a National Cohort Teacher CASE (Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education) Lab Specialist. As a specialist, she will represent CASE at the national convention and recruit other educators to the CASE curriculum. 

That students from South County are competing for and winning prestigious national awards in agriculture is no accident. At Southern High School, FFA and CASE (Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education) go hand-in-hand. Southern is the only high school in Anne Arundel County offering the coursework and program developed by the National Council for Agriculture. 

“The CASE agricultural science program provides students with coursework in fields such as plant and animal science, biotechnology, and many more that coincide with the work students do through FFA,” explains senior Megan Arnold. She joined FFA four years ago and now serves as president of the Southern High chapter. 

Courses prepare students for further study and eventual careers in fields such as veterinarian science, natural resource management, and agricultural economics. Arnold is now in the process of applying to colleges where she plans to study geology. “I know that whatever path I end up on, my time spent with FFA, the skills I’ve learned in public speaking, leadership, and discipline, has established an incredible foundation for the rest of my life,” she said.

The Southern High School FFA is currently selling wreaths for the holidays. Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/events/824044648926218?active_tab=about

FFA students assemble holiday wreaths in the SHS greenhouse. Photo courtesy Stacy Eckels.