Gold, Silver, Bronze trifecta for Moffat County Future Farmers of America team
CRAIG — From a sea of some 650,000 blue and gold-wearing Future Farmers of America representing more than 8,500 chapters from across the nation, Moffat County FFA team members distinguished themselves by bringing home gold, silver and bronze awards recently.
The 90th FFA National Convention and Expo was held in Indianapolis, Indiana Oct. 24 through 28.
In the Ag Mechanics division, John T. Peroulis was the High Individual overall in the nation, winning gold and a $1,000 cash award.
“In general, all of us are involved in agriculture out of school,” said senior Ag Mechanics team member Elias Peroulis. “It’s what we love to do, and competing gives us more information to use in our lives.”
Competition for the four-man Forestry Team of Colby Beckett, Ryan Zimmerman, Jared Baker and Grady Anson started on day one, with a 50-question test taken by each team member, followed on the second day by a two-hour trip to a national forest.
At that location, the team participated in individual and team small business exams and practicum exams that tested their ability to timber cruise to estimate the number of standing trees in a forest, the volume of trees per acres and the types of tree in the forest.
They were also challenged to work as a team to develop a logging plan in a forested watershed that would conserve the river.
Beckett, a senior, compared the national competition to state competition, saying that, not only was it bigger and better, but also more serious, offering greater opportunities for learning.
The four-man Ag Mechanic team of John T. Peroulis, Elias Peroulis, Carlin King and Kelton Villard also competed as a unit and individually.
Forestry competition started on day one, when the four-man group was tasked with making a sprinkler system. They were graded on their ability to work as a team, the final product and their report. While the team had seen a similar sprinkler system at Colorado State University, none of the students had ever built one prior to the competition.
The team challenges were followed by exams and practicums that tasked each competitor to assemble an injector for a small engine, answer electric motor wiring problems using a code book, stick weld a piece of pipe to two flat pieces of metal, measure the gallons per minute of water pumped from a water tank and troubleshoot, then start and operate a utility tractor.
While many of the skills tested are routine for those who have been farming most of their lives, the national competition motivated them to think bigger.
“It makes you realize there is something greater than yourself, and you can make a big difference,” said junior Forestry team member Baker. “It’s stuff like this that brings people together and betters us as people in the future to help us become the grown men that we need to be.”
The competitors are all excited to bring those life lessons back to their farms in Moffat County.
“It made me strive to be as best as I could be and always move forward,” junior Ag mechanics team member King.
If they had it to do over again, however, team members said they would make a few changes.
“I would have studied a little more than we did, especially the trees that they have back there,” Anson, a junior member of the Forestry Team, said
Anson and his teammates had to identify many species of trees they were seeing for the first time.
“A weakness to our strategy was not preparing for the trees and forest there,” Baker said.
Outside of competition, most of the team was able to attend a Rascal Flats Concert, travel to Louisville, Kentucky, for a short tour of Churchill Downs and try big city cuisine.
FFA rules prohibit state winners from entering the same competition a second time, however, it is possible for the students to grow their skills by competing for a spot on another team.
“The Soils team is shaping up to be pretty strong,” Baker said. “I might hop on and compete with that team and take a spot at nationals.”
FFA doesn’t end with high school
Life skills learned in the program help FFA graduates earn a living, and contribute to the American economy.
“Small motors was big for me to come back with as I’m not a fan, but now it gives me an edge,” Elias Peroulis said. “It feeds American and it will feed the future, it’s what FFA stands for: Future Leaders of America. We keep America alive.”
FFA also has an alumni program to provide adults in the industry with an opportunity to stay engaged. Moffat County is home to the Colorado FFA Alumni Association President, Dave Summers and the newly elected National FFA Alumni Region 2 Vice President, Glenda Summers.
“Anyone with an agricultural background, and a willingness to help support the kids, the advisors and a drive to see the kids succeed,” Glenda Summers said.
“I think it’s great. This is the first time we’ve ever taken 2 teams. We won more awards at the state level than in the time that I’ve ever known,” ten years, state for 13 years.
The couple hopes to grow membership to better support youth in agriculture.
“It teaches skills that you use in everyday life. I feel it’s one of the more important opportunities kids have. More people should get involved with the alumni program,” Dave Summers said. “You don’t have to have been an FFA member to be a part of the program.”
Another way to support local FFA is by purchasing fruit sale during the annual sale going on now. The sale and the spring project auction paid for Nationals. FFA Alumni and Moffat County Booster Club donations helped pay for meals.
“We are all proud to be a part of the future of our country, and what we want it to be,” Baker said.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.