Forestry and Veterinary Science Teams Shine at FFA Nationals with Top Finishes

November 11, 2016


submitted by Judy King, Alvirne High School

Alvirne students took to a national stage, making their presence known at the National FFA Veterinary Science Career Development Event and the National FFA Forestry CDE in late October.  The forestry team earned the seventh-place spot out of 40 teams, while veterinary science placed 12th in the nation.  Each team had competed at local and state levels for the privilege of representing their state at the National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Ind.

The Forestry CDE tested students’ skills and knowledge in the area of forest management.  This event, held at the Hyatt in Indianapolis and a central Indiana forest, is one of many educational activities at the national convention in which FFA members apply classroom knowledge to real-life situations.  Event components included a general forest knowledge exam, tree identification, timber cruising, forestry issues interview, and a team activity.  Two additional practicums are chosen each year out of eight possibilities and students must be prepared for all eight and are told the day of the event the two they will be assessed on.  Practicums include business management; forest/tree disorders; compass and pacing; chainsaw safety; forest products; equipment identification; timber stand improvement; and topographic map reading.  The students were tested on the latter two practicums.

“I am very proud of this team for all their hard work and dedication to completing at a high level in a very competitive and rigorous event,” said Mike Gagnon, forest and wildlife management teacher.

The Veterinary Science CDE was held on the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds and tested the participants’ ability to apply veterinary science knowledge and skill in practical settings as well as identify breeds, parasites and equipment.  Participants also completed written and math exams and responded to scenario questions about current topics in the veterinary industry.  Teams presented to a panel of judges about the roles and responsibilities of the veterinary team in a variety of situations involving patients from companion animal to large animal.  This year’s team focused on salmonellosis in dairy cattle.

Mike Gagnon, Alvirne forest and wildlife management teacher, and Elizabeth Craig and Jenny Beaudry, Alvirne veterinary science teachers started preparing their students last spring for the arduous competition.  Students committed to meeting with their teachers one or two days a week after school and throughout the summer to be ready for the competition.  Craig commented, “Jenny and I were very proud of the team’s spirit and dedication.”

Alvirne offers two-year programs in forest and wildlife management and veterinary science.  More information can be found at