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Buffalo places fourth at national FFA event

Nov. 02, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

BUFFALO -- Students at Buffalo High School have always seemed to take pride in their school and its traditions. Add a new, high-tech school building with a group of students whose motto is "Where tradition meets innovation" to the mix, and you know they are going on to bigger and better things.

So it should not surprise anyone when four students from the Buffalo High School Future Farmers of America took their newly chartered club to a national event and scored fourth place out of 82 teams in a field with which they had just become familiar.

To make the win even sweeter, their great national showing would not have happened if the FFA had not changed its rules. When the Buffalo team attended the State FFA in September, they placed second. Usually, only the top-place team goes to the nationals, but this year the second-place team was also allowed to attend the National Future Farmers of America Convention, which took place from Oct. 24 to Oct. 27 in Indianapolis.

"We were very surprised and excited," said Danielle Grant, teacher of the new Agricultural Sciences program at Buffalo High School and the FFA advisor. "What they did was really, really great," she added.

Representing Buffalo High School, Putnam County, and the State of West Virginia were: Dakota Reedy, Kelsey Gatens, Maggie Parsons and Megan King.

What makes this top four placing special is because this is the first year for the Agriculture Science program at Buffalo, and for their newly-chartered Future Farmers of America group.

"They did really well for the first year," Grant said.

Megan King, freshman at BHS, said she signed up for the Agricultural Science Program, which includes basic knowledge of food production, animal science, plant and crop science, agricultural mechanics, and career exploration, to learn more about those areas of farming. Although she lives on a farm, she said she had discovered there are many different aspects of the science.

"I have learned a lot more. We've learned that agriculture isn't just about farming -- it is about food production, environmental issues, such as global warming, and how it affects the environment and farming. It will affect your crops," she said.

King said at the State Convention, they had to take a 50-question skill test followed by a Power Point presentation, where they had to identify pictures of animals, tools, and other farm-related items.

"The test was easy and the Power Point was pretty easy because we were prepared. We are prepared for this one, too," she said last week before leaving for Indianapolis.

Grant said the national competition was more difficult than what they did at the state. The students had scenario questions and math problems. For example: If a veterinarian orders a certain pill, how much would be prescribed for the animal according to its specifications? They also had to demonstrate handling practices.

"If the vet had to take blood, what is the proper way to hold the animal," Grant said. In the clinical portion of the competition, students demonstrated the correct way to give a shot and how to halter an animal. She said another big part of their competition was a skit where each member of the team played a part, which included the receptionist, pet owner, veterinarian and veterinarian assistant. They were given a topic such as dental health. The animal's owner would bring the animal to the vet, who would recommend what should be done for the animal's problem. Although the students were acting as they would in a skit, they gave speeches on the proper procedures to be taken according to the part they were playing. That particular scenario was worth 600 points.

To prepare for the oral presentations for the state and then national competitions, where the students in veterinary science must display clinical knowledge about veterinary care of animals in certain situations, they visited a veterinarian's office after school to gain firsthand experience. Grant gives Pamela Irving of Valley Veterinarians in Teays Valley a lot of credit for the students' outstanding showing at both conventions.

"She was a lot of help with that (the skit) plus with the handling and clinical," Grant said.

King believes her teacher, Danielle Grant, prepared them well for the two conventions.

"I like her teaching skills, she really wants you to know and understand what you are doing. She makes class fun," King said.

Grant said everyone at school was surprised, but certainly pleased at their success in Indianapolis. Since returning home from the convention, they have also received congratulations from the Putnam County Board of Education office.

"I think everybody was shocked. Dr. Cindy Daniel, assistant superintendant congratulated us and is supposed to come to the school later this week," Grant said. She believes P.C. School Superintendant Dr. Chuck Hatfield will attend also.

Grant, who lives in Mason County, said teachers could teach their whole careers and not have a team to make the top four on a national level.

"I am lucky to have such good students," she said.

Grant believes the students have done well because they have backgrounds in farming and 4-H work. In addition, they had worked hard and put in the time required to be successful in the State and National FFA conventions.

"They have worked really hard and put in a lot of hours after school for this contest. They did a lot of studying on their own. All four show at the fair. They all have some animal knowledge and background," Grant said. On the other hand, some of the students on the national level had taken Vet Tech for two years. Her students have only been in the agricultural program for nine weeks. She also credited the New Tech Project Based Learning Program implemented at Buffalo High School in August, which combines text book learning with real world experience.

"This Ag (agricultural science) program is a good fit. What I teach is real world," she said.

"I am just really proud of their success this year. It is a good start for our program to show the state that the people of Buffalo have a team of students they should be proud of and that we will be a contender at the state and the national levels," Grant said.