Marion-Florence FFA captured first place in insect identification and fourth in poultry Thursday in district competition held at Marion High School.
More than 230 FFA members from a dozen high schools competed in entomology, poultry, food science, and agriculture business management.
“We have 24 schools in the district, and we had half of them here,” FFA sponsor Mark Meyer said. “Buhler brought 70 kids, Newton brought 40 — those were the largest groups.”
The local chapter facilitated the entomology and poultry competitions, and Arkansas City sponsored food science activities. The ag management competition, conducted by Winfield, was a new event for the district meet.
“This is the first year to add business management, and it was a good addition,” Meyer said. “We used to do it on an evening in March, and we just didn’t have many teams participate. You get more kids on a school day.”
Nick Meyer led Marion to the championship in entomology with a second-place finish, while Alicia Maloney finished fifth, and Caitlyn Maloney placed sixth. Students had to identify 50 insects and take a written test.
Marion took second in the entomology greenhand division for freshmen, with Dakota Funk placing third, Raleigh Kroupa fifth, Bret Voth sixth, Breanna Doyle seventh, and Seth Snelling tenth.
As they have in past years, the Animal Science and Industry Department of Kansas State University provided the activities in the poultry competition, but an egg shortage in the department required some last minute assistance.
“They didn’t have enough eggs to do interior egg grading, so we had a USDA inspector from Cal-Maine Foods in Chase come in,” Meyer said.
The inspector had to sort through 7,000 eggs Wednesday in order to come up with 90 that had defects contestants had to identify.
Marion placed fourth in poultry with the team of Jacob Cope, Alicia Maloney, Caitlyn Maloney, and Christian Larson. Participants were required to place classes of broilers, laying hens and broiler carcasses. They had to grade exterior eggs, candle eggs to determine interior quality, identify and grade carcass parts, evaluate processed poultry products, take a written test, and complete a team activity.
In the food science greenhand division, Marion students placed seventh overall.
FFA members who didn’t compete were kept busy setting up, facilitating, and taking down poultry and entomology activities. They assisted with scoring and grading entomology exams, a task that was eye-opening for some, Meyer said.
“I’ve done a bad job as far as recruiting people for teaching careers,” Meyer joked. “Someone said, ‘Mr. Meyer, I’m never going to be a teacher if I have to grade that many papers.’”