Chatfield FFA member Jayton Nisbit evaluates ready-to-cook broiler chickens at the regional FFA poultry contest held Dec. 6 at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School.
Chatfield FFA member Jayton Nisbit evaluates ready-to-cook broiler chickens at the regional FFA poultry contest held Dec. 6 at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School.
"What are you, chicken?"

"Yep, that's our team - we love to read poultry."

The Chatfield FFA poultry judging team - comprised of Andrew Gathje, Jessica Fenske, Noah Fenske, Jayton Nisbit and Jessica Steenblock - participated in the regional level FFA Poultry Career Development Event (CDE) at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School on Dec. 6. The team brought home first place, allowing the students to advance to state competition for reading their poultry correctly.

According to Chatfield High School ag instructor and FFA adviser Stacy Fritz, "There were 15 FFA teams around the region that competed for the top five spots that advance to state competition in April. This is the most competition and highest number of teams this contest has seen in eight years, and Chatfield placed first in the region."

Fritz also added this is the second year this particular team has competed. Last year, they missed advancing to state by one placing.

She elaborated on what the team has to do at competition, saying, "The students have to take a written test on poultry management and their classes included ready-to-cook broiler carcass grading, ready-to-cook turkey placing class, 'keep or cull' pullet ranking class on grading young layers, ranking class of past production laying hens, interior egg grading, exterior egg grading and identification of ready-to-cook broiler parts."

The team competes at regional and state competition each school year, Fritz observed, and preparations for those competitions begin early in the school year, before the rooster crows.

"Once a week for an hour in the morning, the team meets in the ag room and practices," Fritz explained. "They are also expected to put in time outside of practice, reviewing materials that they were given at the beginning of the school year. At practice, we create our own judging classes and practice placing them. They also take past written tests for practice to see how they are progressing."

Being a part of FFA judging teams allows students to expand their horizons through development of critical thinking skills and prepares them for the working world by imposing real life circumstances.

The adviser noted, "Participating in Career Development Events (CDE's) or judging teams provides students with the opportunity to learn and develop their critical thinking skills. Every CDE requires FFA members to analyze situations in a timed setting. They have to take what they learn and apply them to real life situations. In this case, they are analyzing poultry parts and eggs for food safety and quality standards as well as common management practices. This is a unique benefit of being involved in FFA - in no other student organization can students participate in events like this. Being successful in CDE events takes hard work and dedication and is directly related to the amount of time a student puts into preparing for the event."

Fritz will be proud to add the first place regional competition team plaque the poultry readers earned to the Chatfield High School display cases - she cited that the team will receive a "First place team plaque at the Region 8 FFA Awards Banquet in April, and then they'll go on to the state FFA convention in St. Paul on April 28 through April 30, 2013."