FFA features champions

A recap of the 2020-21 season

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FFA putting together gift baskets for teacher appreciation week. (Caleb Almond, Alicia Cardwell, Corey Woods)

Jennifer Bryant, Reporter

The Tunstall chapter of FFA has had a busy season this year despite of COVID regulations. 

On Thursday, November 19, 2020, the Tunstall High School FFA chapter competed virtually in the Inaugural National Entrepreneur Day event. This event focuses on entrepreneurship through competitions that challenge a fragmented ecosystem, a lack of intentional entrepreneurial programming for women and people of color, an underdeveloped pipeline for youth entrepreneurship, and a lack of support for entrepreneurs facing isolation. Each student was allowed ten minutes to share their project idea with the judges. Participants could display their projects in school or from home. Tunstall High School students who participated were Justin Coles, Turner Curtis, Emma Doolin, William Eaton, Isaiah Hopkins, Mackenzie Hendrickson, Shawn Jamison, Mason Moore, Nathan Shively, Gavin Smith, Patrick Snow, and Corey Woods. 

The winners for this competition were:

1st place – Freshman Shawn Jamison

2nd place – Juniors Trey Atkinson & Isaiah Hopkins

3rd place – Seniors Mackenzie Hendrickson & Corey Woods

“I honestly didn’t think I’d place because there were a lot of great competitors,” senior Corey Woods said. 

Freshman Shawn Jamison’s Idea Fair project was a battery powered combine/ tractor that focused on reducing production agriculturalists’ carbon footprint while increasing productivity. Jamison’s proposition was supported by the use of cost efficient materials in the production of machinery, and would be prosperous for farmers looking for a cheaper way of producing yield.

“My inspiration for my project came from both Dr. Jones and Elon Musk because of his battery powered cars. I wanted to create a battery powered tractor to save the environment,” Shawn Jamison said. 

December’s focus was on fundraising as the Tunstall FFA participated in the annual fruit and nut sale. 

The top sellers were: 

    Justin Coles who sold $728 in merchandise  

Gavin Smith who sold $522 in fruits and nuts                                

Jace DeMott who sold $500 in fruits and nuts 

Moving into the new year, FFA participated virtually in the Hippology competition for the Virginia Tech Block and Bridle national events from Wednesday, February 24 to Sunday, February 27. In the virtual awards ceremony held on Tuesday, March 16, out of the 400 competitors and 115 teams, Turner Curtis placed 28th in exams and slides; 50th in stations and judging; and 33rd overall in the contest. The Tunstall FFA team placed 21st in exams and slides; 20th in stations and judging; and 18th overall in the competition. Team members included Ayrton Bowen, Caleb Sutton, Corey Woods, Juan Villafuentes-Jimenez, Mackenzie Hendrickson, Nathan Merricks, Shawn Jamison, and Turner Curtis.

The Stockmen’s and Livestock national events were held simultaneously virtually Wednesday, March 3 to Sunday, March 7. There were more than 850 participants in these contests represented from states such as Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia. 

Out of the 850 individual competitors and 245 teams, the Pittsylvania County representatives placed as follows: Austin Presley placed 38th overall and the team placed 22nd overall in the Cattle division; Stephenie Gonzales placed 12th overall and the team placed 10th overall in the Swine Division; Stephenie Gonzales placed 42nd, Austin Presley placed 47th, and Turner Curtis placed 50th overall and the team placed 11th overall in the Sheep and Goat Division; Stephenie Gonzales placed 50th overall in the contest and the team placed 17th overall in the competition. Team members included Austin Presley, Ayrton Bowen, Caleb Sutton, Corey Woods, Destine Yeatts, Emma Doolin, Juan Villafuentes-Jimenez, Mackenzie Hendrickson, Nathan Merricks, Shawn Jamison, Stephenie Gonzales, and Turner Curtis.

On Thursday, April 15 at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds in Rockingham, Virginia, the Tractor Operator career development event took place where demonstrate their skills in diagnosing tractor maintenance problems, safety, and operating skills through written and practical exams, operating a tractor with two-wheel implement attached, and operating a tractor with four-wheel implement attached. In his first time competing in this event, senior Caleb Sutton placed 3rd in the written exam and 4th overall.

On Tuesday, April 20 at Montvale Park in Bedford County, the FFA team participated in the Forestry Judging Career Development Event where students have to show their knowledge of forestry terms as well as promote an understanding of the economic impact of the forest environment. The team placed 6th overall, and senior Austin Presley was recognized as 8th high individual overall in the contest. 

“Austin and Corey really carried the team. It was great working with them this year,” said senior Juan Villafuentes. 

The team included Austin Presley, Corey Woods, Juan Villafuentes-Jimenez, Emma Doolin and Mackenzie Hendrickson.