Visitors to past Farm Shows have gotten a taste of what various ag-related companies do through a series of displays and videos set up by participating FFA chapters.
Now that the Today’s Agriculture exhibit has taken the lead in “opening the doors” to modern farming practices and floor space inside the Weis Markets Exhibition Hall at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex is at a premium, FFA chapters have been presenting their projects on television screens rather than building intricate displays and doing presentations.
But it’s also resulted in students producing much better projects, according to Farm Show manager Jim Sharp, who recently viewed the videos that will be on display at this year’s show.
“The quality is so much better in terms of their execution of the videos,” Sharp said.
The 13 FFA chapters, from Berks to Adams County and as far north as Tioga County and west as Westmoreland County, also took a different approach to this year’s video contest, which is sponsored by Lancaster Farming.
Rather than focusing on companies producing food, this year’s competition focuses on education and the various ag-related career opportunities available.
“What we wanted to do is try to explain that connection between what you do in secondary school and your experience prior to post-secondary education — just what types of experience and training you should get in order to complete a degree,” Sharp said.
Students partnered with various colleges and universities, where they interviewed professors and instructors on various possible career fields, ranging from dairy science to horticulture and even therapeutic riding and aquaculture.
Sharp said the goal is not only to give visitors the chance to see what sorts of ag-related careers are available, but also to give students the chance to network with prospective colleges they might want to attend.
“It was a very good project for the students. It not only gave them a way to think about these different areas, they were able to touch base with post-secondary institutions and network,” he said. “They really took that to heart and put that to heart this year.”
The fact that the contest doesn’t include a large display, Sharp said, also opened it up to FFA chapters far away from Harrisburg, including the Grand Canyon FFA chapter from Wellsboro, Pa., and the Canton FFA chapter from Canton, Pa., which otherwise might not have been able to come to the Farm Show Complex to set up a display because of the time and costs involved.
The videos will be presented on four screens set up in the exhibition hall. They also can be viewed now at www.LancasterFarming.com/video/FFA/ on Lancaster Farming’s website.
Visitors will be able to vote for their favorite video, and the winning chapter will get a special recognition and rosette. Ballots will be inserted in next week’s edition of Lancaster Farming and will be available at the Lancaster Farming booth at the Farm Show. There will be no voting online.
Each chapter will receive $150 from the Farm Show and $600 from Lancaster Farming for participating in the contest.
The list of FFA chapters and participating colleges is as follows: Big Spring FFA, which worked with Wilson College on therapeutic riding; Apple City FFA with Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) on horticulture; Canton FFA with Mansfield University on environmental sciences; Chambersburg FFA with Wilson College on veterinary technicians; Derry FFA with Westmoreland County Community College on the greenhouse management field; Kutztown FFA with Longwod Gardens Professional Gardener Program and the University of Delaware on horticulture; Manheim FFA with Delaware Valley College on dairy science; Gifford Pinchot FFA with Messiah College on sustainable agriculture; Grand Canyon FFA with Mansfield University on aquaculture; Conococheague FFA with SUNY-Cobleskill on John Deere service technician; and West Perry FFA with Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine on the veterinarian field.
Battlefield FFA also participated.