FFA placed first in Floriculture at last weekend’s state-level championship and qualified for the National FFA Convention this fall. Additionally, the veterinary science team placed eighth overall. The national contest will be held in Indianapolis this October.
“Placing was exciting and I’m thrilled for our team,” senior Camille Barkhuizen said. “Me and Madeline, who is a junior, both went last year for the vet science nationals so we were both really excited to go again.”
Barkhuizen was a silver medal finalist at the state championship. FFA members said they were surprised to win the contest at such a high level.
“As the season progressed, we knew our team would get ranked higher, and we would always make ‘what if’ comments about winning first place,” senior and fourth place individual Tori Botello said. “But then ironically we did end up placing first.”
The team spent multiple hours a week preparing for the championship. Preparation included a mix of taking practice multiple choice exams and practicums. But preparing also meant hands-on experience when they had to identify many different types of plants and raise them in nurseries.
“All of us are good at memorizing and identifying different types of plants, flowers and foliage,” Barkhuizen said. “We also have a great adviser who provides us with a lot of resources. We have also gone to a lot of practice competitions, we even went to six different ones over spring break. We spent so much time covering the wedding arrangements and just worked together to make sure we all have an understanding of what was going to happen at the competition.”
FFA adviser Magan Escamilla said it is going to be exciting to compete in nationals two years in a row.
“I never dreamed I would qualify for nationals once let alone twice in back to back years,” Escamilla said. “To say I’m proud of these kids is an understatement. We work hard and it pays off.”
Members are looking forward to competing in Indianapolis in the fall. Barkhuizen said it will be a crazy time of year for her and the other seniors, Noel Attwood and Botello, who will all have to return from college to compete.
“[Competing] was also nerve-racking because three of us are going to be in college,” Barkhuizen said. “Which means we’ll have to study over the summer and during the first few weeks of college and then take a week off of school to return in the fall.”