Agricultural education in action during the Colorado Career Development Events at CSU

Find more photos on the College of Agricultural Sciences Flickr page.

More than 1,750 FFA students from around the state competed in the Colorado Career Development Events, hosted at Colorado State University’s Fort Collins campus.

The College of Agricultural Sciences’ agricultural education team facilitated the two-day event, which featured contests in which participating FFA members in grades 7 to 12 test their skills learned through agricultural education instruction. CSU’s agricultural facilities – including the Nutrien Agricultural Sciences Building, Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center, and B.W. Pickett Arena – served as the backdrop for the competitions.

The contests test competencies across a range of topics such as employment skills, vet science, agricultural sales, dairy cattle judging and food science and technology. During the events, students are challenged to demonstrate critical thinking skills, foster teamwork and promote communication while recognizing the value of ethical competition and individual achievement.

The value of agricultural education

Jhoany Juarez

Jhoany Juarez, a student in the Burlington FFA chapter, says that despite his family working in farming and ranching, he was never that interested in agriculture. That is until his ag teacher Gaston Hornung encouraged him to join FFA. He didn’t know exactly what he was getting into but was willing to give it a try.

“It was just a new experience and I absolutely fell in love. It taught me so many things,” said Juarez, who, in addition to running his own auto-detailing business, shows steers and pigs.

“The biggest words I have [to describe FFA] are ‘life-changing. It’s a motivator to keep going because you see outcomes from it.”

Juarez competed in Agricultural Sales this year, which will be his last state CDE as he graduates from high school this semester. He wants to work in lending or insurance and will be attending CSU in the fall to pursue a degree in Agricultural Business with a minor in Marketing.

When asked about the future of ag, community is what comes to mind.

“I see a bigger community coming together and making it better than it has ever been. I see all the new technologies coming in. But I still see all the old traditions coming together and still enjoying the farming and ranching – the overall community. And having fun still.”

State winners

Career Development Events occur at the local, state and national levels. State winners will move on to compete in the 2023 National FFA Convention and Expo in November.

Contest: Vet Science

  • Individual: Kole Hawkins – Cedaredge
  • Team: Cedaredge

Contest: Floriculture

  • Individual: Shannon Cooney –Windsor
  • Team: Lone Star

Contest: Farm and Agribusiness Business Management

  • Individual (Tie): KaCee Saffer – Flagler, and Ethan Schneller – Holyoke
  • Team: Flagler

Contest: Milk Quality and Products

  • Individual: Katherine Nadeau – St. Vrain Valley
  • Team: Platte Valley

Contest: Field Crops

  • Individual: Hailey Loutzenhiser – Flagler
  • Team: Wray

Contest: Meats Evaluation and Technology

  • Individual: Raelynn Hanagan – Roosevelt
  • Team: Roosevelt

Contest: Land Judging

  • Individual: Kenna McElroy – McClave
  • Team: Holyoke

Contest: Food Products and Processing

  • Individual: Rex Yocam – Kim
  • Team: Cedaredge

Contest: Dairy Cattle Judging

  • Individual: Shae Stone – Eaton
  • Team: Eaton

Contest: Horse Evaluation

  • Individual: Anna Thomas – St. Vrain Valley
  • Team: St. Vrain Valley

Contest: Agricultural Mechanics

  • Individual: Michael Slappey – Rifle
  • Team: Brush

Contest: Agriculture Sales

  • Individual: Lane Stevens – Highland
  • Team: Windsor

Contest: Livestock Evaluation

  • Individual: Bailey Fischer – Douglas County
  • Team: Douglas County

Faces of the Future of Ag

Maray Campuzano Saenz stands in front of the Nutrien Agricultural Sciences Building.
  • Name: Maray Campuzano Saenz
  • Grade: Senior
  • FFA Chapter: Burlington
  • CDE Contest: Agriculture Sales
  • Future Plans: University of Nebraska at Kearney, majoring in Business Management with a minor in Pre-Law (focus on Ag Law)
  • Why Ag? “Agriculture and law are both deep in my heart. I want to be able to give back to the community that raised me and communities like it. I understand that there’s a lot of issues that happen and people don’t really know about them, and there’s not as many people as there should be [to defend them.] So, I want to be one of those, and just stand up and advocate for ag.”
Kai Siep stands in front of the Nutrien Agricultural Sciences Building holding a CSU pennant.
  • Name: Kai Siep
  • Grade: Senior
  • FFA Chapter: Holyoke
  • CDE Contest: Farm and Agribusiness Management
  • Future Plans: Colorado State University, majoring in Agricultural Business
  • Why Ag? “I grew up in Denver for 13 years and I’ve lived in a very small rural community for the last four and a half. It’s really shown me two sides of the same coin of our country. And one of the things I’ve noticed is there’s a lot of division when it comes to the rural areas. That’s encouraged me to stay within the agricultural field and go down the route of lessening that divide and coming up with common solutions to these problems that both sides have, such as water.”

About the National FFA Organization

The National FFA Organization is an intra-curricular organization that brings together students, teachers, and agribusiness professionals to prepare members for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.