City Kids Know Agriculture: Des Moines FFA Qualifies for Nationals

Think city kids don’t know agriculture? Think again!

The Des Moines FFA Chapter had the top Ag Issues and Perceptions team at the Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference, currently underway in Ames. They will be representing Iowa at the National FFA Convention in Louisville next Fall.

The team consists of Charlies Arends (Roosevelt), Jordan Christensen (Hoover), Ella Gehrke (Waukee), Jonah Jensen (Valley), Alexis Kurth (Roosevelt), Dakota Lyddon (East) and Lee Thomsen (Valley). Their instructors are Jacob Hunter and Craig Nelson.

The Ag Issues and Perceptions event requires each team to have a firm understanding of how issues in agriculture develop. Participants are challenged to create a portfolio and deliver a presentation on the pros and cons of their issue. Verbal skills and presentation abilities are used to defend the issue through a series of questions.

“Our students put in a tremendous amount of hours and hard work to be successful,” said teacher Jacob Hunter. “It is awfully rewarding when our kids can compete on the same level as some of the rural schools from across the state.”

Des Moines also had the top FFA chapter at the 18th annual Envirothon, held last week at Springbrook State Park. The Envirothon is a program for Iowa high school students who want to learn more about natural resources and current environmental challenges. Teams are tested in wildlife, aquatics, forestry, soils and current issues. This year’s current issues oral competition theme was grazing and rangeland management: livestock, grazing and long-term management for absentee land owners in Iowa. The Iowa Envirothon is hosted by the Conservation Districts of Iowa and sponsored by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The Des Moines FFA chapter is affiliated with the Animal Science and Horticulture program at Central Campus. Despite being in an urban setting, the program is one of the most active and largest of its kind in Iowa. The program has its own teaching and learning facility, with a large greenhouse and animal barn, on the south side of Des Moines.

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