FFA students national champs


November 3, 2021

Courtesy photo

Tucumcari FFA members MiKayla Klinger and Ashton Smith celebrate their national title in the Social Science 2 division at the organization's national convention in Indianapolis.

Two Tucumcari FFA members were crowned national champions last weekend in the Social Science 2 division during the National FFA Agriscience Fair at the organization's national convention in Indianapolis.

The same weekend, two other Tucumcari FFA members and one Logan FFA member were bestowed prestigious American FFA Degrees for their dedication to the organization.

Ashton Smith and MiKayla Klinger earned the national title Friday at the convention after presenting their hydroponic tomato perception research project.

Smith and Klinger learned earlier this summer they had ranked in the top 10 of their division and qualified for nationals after winning the state competition.

Klinger and Smith's project tried to determine whether respondents had a preference with how tomatoes were grown.

"This was important to us because our FFA chapter operates a hydroponic greenhouse and often struggles consistently marketing our tomatoes," they wrote in the presentation. "In the greater ag industry, consumer perception drives sales. Agriculturists can benefit from studying and understanding consumer preferences when buying products."

The survey, which had 702 responses, indicated 49% to 56% chose tomatoes on visual qualities over how they were grown.

When considering organic, hydroponic or traditionally grown methods, respondents indicated they felt comfortable with any of those.

"Our results were similar to other published studies, showing that consumers conduct their buying according to appearance at the store. The results from our studies as well as other similar studies drive home the importance of consumer preference in marketing ag products," they wrote.

Jan Klinger is the Tucumcari FFA chapter's adviser.

Jonathan Clark and Tianna Peterson, members of the Tucumcari FFA chapter, and Mackenzie Lightfoot, a member of the Logan FFA chapter, each were awarded the American FFA Degree during the convention.

The award recognizes demonstrated ability and outstanding achievements in agricultural business, production, processing or service programs, according to a news release.

To be eligible for the award, FFA members must have earned and productively invested $10,000 through a supervised agricultural experience program in which they own their own business or hold a professional position as an employee.

Recipients also must complete 50 hours community service and demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities and civic involvement through completion of a long list of FFA and community activities.

Less than 1% of FFA members achieve the American FFA degree. In the Tucumcari chapter's history, only three members have received it: Brandon Sours (2008), Randy Worley (1983) and Melvin Reynolds (1973).

Clay Lightfoot is Logan's FFA adviser.


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