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Ag Tech Contest Marks 49thth Year at UWRF

By Jessica Bergan
University Communications

MAY 12, 2009 | For almost 50 years the University of Wisconsin-River Falls has shared its campus facilities, knowledge and assistance to FFA members from across Wisconsin through its annual Agricultural Technology Contest.

Students participated in 18 various agriculturally-related contests, including: agricultural communications, agricultural mechanics, agronomy, dairy cattle evaluation, farm business management, floriculture, food science and technology, forestry, horse evaluation, livestock evaluation, meats, nursery/landscape, small animals, soils and wildlife.

Walter Taylor, a junior agricultural education major from Cleveland, was this year’s contest coordinator, while Kellie Claflin, a junior agricultural education major from Osseo, served as the assistant coordinator for the event.

New this year was the meats contest. Claflin said that hosting the state qualifying meats contest was exciting because university students helped FFA members learn more about meat science and were able to show off the UWRF facilities to prospective students as well.

Claflin said change is part of the contest history. “The Ag Tech Day has definitely evolved over the years, and the contests have changed as well. They are not just general animal science contests anymore, but more specific.” For example, the food science and technology contestants created their own product this year, showing off their knowledge and skills.

This year, UWRF also served as the Wisconsin FFA state contest venue for agricultural communications, food science and technology and meats. The first-place team for the agricultural communications contest was from Bloomer. The food science and technology first place team was from Oconto Falls, and the first place meats team was from Dodgeland. These FFA chapters will compete at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis in October.

Five of the available contests — agricultural mechanics, dairy evaluation, floriculture, horse evaluation and livestock evaluation—also served as qualifying contests for the Wisconsin FFA Association Career Development Events, held in Madison.

Another highlight was the 30th Annual Crop Show, developed by Steve Carlson, a UWRF professor of crop science. Assisting with the show were students in the grain crops and forage production class, along with Dennis Cosgrove, a UWRF professor of crop science.

“It is an excellent chance for UWRF students to gain hands-on experience, but also for the younger students to see how their crops rank in the state,” said Carlson. “It’s been rewarding in my career to see the quality and quantity of crop entrees increase. Wisconsin can be proud of what it produces.”

An Award of Excellence was given to the top 10 schools with the top team scores and in recognition of those schools that go above and beyond the call of duty. This year’s recipients were: Bloomer High School, Mondovi High School, Marshfield High School, Stillwater Area High School, Colby High School, Granton High School, Barron High School, River Falls High School, Eau Claire Memorial High School, and Osseo-Fairchild High School.

Middle school student participation was also encouraged with two contests specifically designed for that age group to demonstrate their skills in agri-science and horticulture.

“This year’s contest definitely reached a wide range of people,” said Claflin. “Students also had the opportunity to compete in a power tool drag race sponsored by the UWRF Agricultural Mechanization Club.”

“There were more than 1,000 people on campus for the contests that day, and we would not have succeeded without the help of our students and faculty,” said Claflin. “All UWRF volunteers showed their expertise in every area needed, including judging the contests, leading the animals in the ring and helping to make sure everything was run smoothly.”

Next year, Claflin said she is looking forward to celebrating the 50th annual Ag Tech Contest as the coordinator while working with the new assistant coordinator Michelle Heeg, a sophomore agricultural education major from Marshfield.

“Most of the students helping with the contest have participated in it themselves, and it is a great opportunity for them to give back what has been given to them and apply what we as students are learning in school,” said Claflin. “The contest is also a great recruiting tool to showcase our campus too.”


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