2010 Agricultural Technology Contest

March 27, 2010


Agricultural Communications State Event


Contest Description and Rules:

Please direct questions to:

Gena Polzin

**Students should bring a standard cassette tape recorder with a tape for the contest. The tape will be turned in at the end of the contest!!

The Agricultural Communications contest will include the following portions of the National FFA Agricultural Communications contest (see the CDE handbook - found on the National FFA web site- for details)


Contest Purpose, Objectives, Rules and Guidelines

  • Schools may enter a two-, three- or four-member team or an individual may participate, but individuals are not eligible for the team award. All participants in the Wisconsin State CDE MUST be in official FFA dress. Official dress is strongly recommended for all contestants.
  • References: Associated Press Style Manual (available at most major or campus bookstores) Agricultural Communications CDE Guidebook
  • Writing for Agriculture (2nd edition) ISBN 0-7872-7813-0

A. Editing exercise
- 30 min.

  • Because editing is a critical skill for all communicators, each participant will complete an editing exercise. They will be given a printed document that contains 25 identified sections. Participants will be required to correct the mistakes using correct proofreader’s marks (see Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual). Style, grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes will be included. Participants will NOT be able to use the style manual or dictionary during this exercise.

B. Communications Quiz - 30 min.

  • Each participant will complete a quiz that covers basic elements important to the skill areas of journalistic writing, radio broadcasting, public relations writing and graphic design. Questions will be written for each segment, which includes broadcasting, public relations, news, visuals and ethics of communication.

The practicum will consist of four specific activities with no more than one team member per activity. Participants can participate in one of the following activities:

  • Organizing and writing a news story;
  • Organizing and writing a news release;
  • Developing and recording a broadcast news story; or
  • Preparing a graphic and editing a photo for a news story. Create graphics for press conference.

Each team should assign a member to each of these activities when registering for the event. Individuals who are not participating on full teams will designate which activity they plan to participate in when they enter the contest.

All teams will meet for an orientation, the tests and the press conference. Teams will be divided so that all broadcasters sit together, all news story writers sit together, all news release writers sit together and all graphic designers sit together.

All team members will be given an orientation at the beginning of the practicums to last no more than 5 minutes. Following the orientation, the press conference will be held. Each team member will receive a press packet with background information on the agricultural topic and expert, which they can review for 5 minutes. The expert will speak on a timely agricultural topic for 10-15 minutes. Students will be provided with paper on which to take notes if they wish. Students should bring their own pens or pencils.

After the presentation, a 10-minute question-and-answer period with the expert (speaker) will be held. Upon completion of the question-and-answer session, all competitors will be allowed 60 minutes to complete their assigned tasks.


Detailed descriptions of each team member’s assignment follows:


News writers

Students are to write a news story based on information gathered at the news conference. It should be written for an agricultural publication (ag producer) audience. The story should have a minimum of 250 words and follow news or inverted pyramid style. It should have a strong focus and lead (opening paragraph). The story should provide answers to who, what, when, where, how, and why. Students also should write a headline for their story. Each writer can use notes from the press conference, the Q&A session, and from information in the press packet. They will have 60 minutes to complete their tasks. Judging is based on written communication skills, accuracy, organization, style, creativity, and grammar. Students will have access to Windows based computers with Microsoft Word for typing their news stories.


News release writers

Each press release writer will use the press packet and the information gathered in the press conference to write a 200- to 300-word news release. The release should be written as if it were being distributed by the expert’s company or organization. They will have 60 minutes to complete the task. Students will have access to Windows based computers with Microsoft Word for typing their news release.


Each broadcaster will use the press packet and information gathered in the press conference to write and record a radio broadcast suitable to be aired on a radio station or radio network. The story should run between 90 seconds and 2 minutes and 30 seconds. After the contestant has developed the story, he or she will use a standard cassette and tape recorder to tape the story. Students should provide their own battery-operated cassette recorders and tapes. These tapes will be labeled with the contestant’s name and school. The cassette tape with the recorded broadcast will be turned in to be evaluated. Students will be able to listen to their recording prior to turning in the cassette if time allows. Recording quality will not be a factor in the evaluation process.

Broadcasters will also develop and turn in five written questions that he or she would have asked the expert if they were given the opportunity to interview the expert after the press conference. These written questions will be turned in along with the cassette once the student has completed the tasks. They will have 60 minutes to complete these tasks.


Graphic Designers

Each designer will complete a graphic art and photo cut line writing exercise. Effective communication of
information sharing through visual tools is the objective. They will have 60 minutes to complete their three tasks.

  • Graphic art exercise—Each student will illustrate numeric data from the press conference by creating a chart or table using a Microsoft Office program. A press packet will provide the data. Students are judged on their graphic art skills, understanding and use of statistics, and creativity. Paper and access to an Windows based computer with Microsoft Office will be provided.
  • Photo caption exercise—Students are to write a cut line for their two selected photos that will be based off the presentation from the practicum. Students will be judged on accuracy of information, grammar, brevity, clarity, and creativity of captions.


Overall CDE Timeline
1. Testing
     Communications Quiz - 30 minutes
     Editing exercise - 30 minutes
     10 minute break
2. Press Conference
     Review Press Packet - 5 minutes
     Guest Speaker - 15 minutes
     Question and Answer Session with Speaker - 10 minutes
3. Practicum - 60 minutes


The following equipment will be provided:

  • For writers and graphic designers: access to Windows based computers with Microsoft Office programs.
  • For graphic designers: photographs, data for graphic art exercise and access to Windows based computers with Microsoft Office programs.
  • For everyone: dictionaries (may be used only during the practicums), style manuals (may be used only during the practicums) and paper.


  • Tests - 50 points
      • Communications Quiz                            25
      • Editing Exercise                                      25


  • Practicum - 100 points

The practicums will be judged and ranked using the following criteria.

    • News Stories
      • Lead/Focus                                                                            20
      • Organization, brevity, conciseness, and clarity                15
      • Correct style                                                                         10
      • Accuracy of information and quotes                                 20
      • Creativity                                                                             10
      • Headline                                                                                10
      • Grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice                  15
    • Press Releases
      • Lead/Focus                                                                          20
      • Organization, brevity, conciseness, and clarity               15
      • Correct style                                                                         10
      • Accuracy of information and quotes                                 15
      • Creativity                                                                              10
      • Header/headline                                                                  10
      • Grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice                 10
      • Company or product information                                      10
    • Broadcasters’ recordings
      • Voice quality                                                                         10
      • Power of expression                                                            10
      • Lead/Focus                                                                         15
      • Clarity of communication                                                   10
      • Organization, conciseness, and brevity                            10
      • Creativity                                                                              10
      • Accuracy of information and quotes                                 15
      • Quality of Five Written Follow-up Questions                20
    • Visual Communication
      • Graphic art exercise
        • Completeness of chart (title, lables, ect.)            15
        • Accuracy and relevance of data                           15
        • Clarity                                                                      15
        • Creativity                                                                15
      • Photo captions
        • Accuracy                                                                   10
        • Clarity                                                                       10
        • Grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice    10
        • Creativity                                                                 10
  • Individual Scoring - 150 points possible
    • Communications Quiz 25
    • Editing Exercise 25
    • Practicum 100
  • Team Scoring
    • FFA State Contest scores will be based on the top 3 team members' individual scores
    • Agricultural Technology Contest scores will be based on the top 2 team members' individual scores
  • Tie Breakers
    • Team tie breakers will be settled in the following order:
      • Practicum scores
      • Quiz scores
      • Editing exercise scores
      • Additional team member individual score(s)
    • Individual’s tie breakers will be settled in the following order:
      • Practicum score
      • Quiz score
      • Editing exercise score

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