WSU supporting FFA State Convention

Washington State University faculty, staff, and students will help and provide support at the upcoming Washington FFA Convention, while also hosting post-convention challenges that allow high school students to showcase their agricultural knowledge and skills.

Three students in blue FFA jackets stand at a table with a sign on the wall saying Insect Identification.
FFA students on the WSU Pullman campus at the 2022 Agronomy Career Development Event.

During the official FFA state convention, May 12-14, 2022, in Kennewick, WSU will be well represented. Twelve agricultural education students are volunteering at the event, faculty and staff will be on hand to distribute information and talk about WSU, and Rich Koenig, interim dean of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS), will greet convention participants.

“The Washington FFA Convention is always a fantastic learning and sharing event for high school students,” Koenig said. “I’m excited by the opportunity to greet them all. What they’re doing and learning will benefit them for years to come, and I deeply appreciate the energy they bring every year to the convention.”

UPDATE: Due to a medical issue, Koenig will not be able to greet attendees. Interim Associate Dean for Student Success and Academic Programming Nancy Deringer will now greet convention participants.

WSU will host FFA students from around Washington on May 31 and June 1, as they participate in Career Development Events and tests on topics ranging from milk quality and meat judging to veterinary skills and beyond.

“These contests require a lot of technical skills and use WSU’s faculty and facilities,” said Anna Warner, an assistant professor of agricultural education at WSU. “It’s hard to do a meats contest in a convention center. And our faculty dedicate their time and expertise to make sure these contests are high-quality and industry based.”

For Dany Cavadini, the executive director of the Washington FFA Association, the close relationship between WSU and FFA helps both organizations.

“Students are learning about topics in the classroom, but these contests help them take the next step and solidify that what they’re learning matters in the real world,” said Cavadini, a 2015 WSU graduate with a degree in Animal Sciences. “And for WSU, the contests and campus experiences show students the variety of degrees available and opens their eyes to options they may not have known about. The reason I went to WSU was because of the exposure I had to the campus from FFA.”

The Milk Quality event tests student knowledge of cheese identification and milk-sample sensory tests. In Food Science events, FFA students will take part in sensory tests and challenges. In previous contests, for example, students had to identify between name- and store-brand cereals using only their senses.

A student in a blue jacket points to his poster as a group of people watch him.
An FFA student explains his poster to judges at the 2022 Washington FFA Agriscience Fair, held in March on the WSU Pullman campus.

“Having our Food Science faculty, like Dr. [Girish] Ganjyal,” renowned food scientist and the interim chair of WSU’s School of Food Science, “there to judge improves the entire contest for everyone,” Warner said.

For veterinary events, there are a variety of activities the FFA students may explore, ranging from administering injections and properly restraining animals that need treatment to identifying parasites or equipment used in the treatment of animals.

WSU and CAHNRS’ close relationship with Washington FFA involves much more than hosting events on campus or the convention’s long history of involvement with the university. Warner and J.D. Baser, ag education teaching associate professor, are both members of Washington FFA Association Board of Directors.

“It’s really important for WSU and FFA to work closely together,” Baser said. “These students have an interest in learning more about agriculture and agricultural industries. And that’s what so many programs at WSU, and CAHNRS in particular, provide. It’s always a great opportunity for WSU to host these students and show how we can help prepare them for their future careers.”