FFA, forestry program help educate through friendly competition

Oct 21, 2010 | Applied and Natural Sciences, General News

The Future Farmers of America and Louisiana Tech’s forestry program brought the agriculture industry to the classroom recently in order to give high school students on-hand experience of what it takes to be a forester.
Students from high schools all over Northeast Louisiana along with Tech forestry students traveled to Tech to compete in the annual Area 1 Forestry Competition.
Students split up into teams and competed in basic forestry skills such as map reading, tree identification, pulpwood and sawlog estimation, compass and pacing and the thinning of trees to see who would advance to the FFA state competition.
Ronald Mayeux, executive secretary of the Louisiana FFA, believes this competition will open up many future job opportunities for students who participated and also bring out their competitive sides.
“This is a career development event for the FFA and it takes the classroom activities that students go through every day and apply that to skills that they will need to become a forester or to work in the forestry industry,” Mayeux said. “This is a great contest between the northeast part of the state for high school students that are enrolled in vocational agricultural classes and are FFA members. They are learning and being associated with things a forester would do on a day to day basis by competing with each other, which will greatly help them if they choose to enter this field of work.”
John Albritton, an agriculture teacher from Caldwell High School, brought his class to the competition to experience forestry training and apply classroom skills learned every day at school while also having a bit of fun on the side.
“I love this event as a teacher because it actually validates what I teach to my students,” Albritton said. “They learn that I actually know what I’m talking about most of the time and students actually have fun doing it. It is a wonderful event that teaches high school students that aspire to be foresters or work in the agriculture industry what it’s like to work in this particular field when they graduate high school and college. The students work in groups and compete in different areas and the FFA officials pick five different groups to advance to the state competition this year being held in Leesville which adds a little something to the competition and something students can aim for.”
As for the students, many said they enjoyed getting to do something with their hands rather than sitting in a classroom taking notes.
Alex Theodos, a student from Dubach High School and the president of Area 1 of the Louisiana FFA, has been taking forestry classes at Tech for the past two years in her spare time to prepare for life after high school.
“A lot of students are interested in forestry but don’t know a whole lot about it until they get here,” Theodos said. “Tech and the FFA are really doing a great job introducing students to the technical side of forestry and teaching us how to do skills we can use for the rest of our lives.”
By Anna Claire Thomas, a junior journalism major from Ruston