FFA stu­dents prep for state fi­nals at Ex­eter High cit­rus judg­ing con­test

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE - By JAMIE A. HUNT

More than 140 Fu­ture Farm­ers of Amer­ica (FFA) stu­dents from 19 dif­fer­ent schools com­peted in the Ex­eter/ Golden West spon­sored cit­rus judg­ing con­test at Ex­eter Union High School Ag Farm on Satur­day, Jan­uary 12.

The cit­rus judg­ing con­tests are val­ley-wide and open to any­one in the state, said Dan Crookham, EUSH ag in­struc­tor. Nine judges from the cit­rus in­dus­try over­saw the con­tests and set up the classes of fruit for qual­ity and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of pests and dis­eases.

FFA stu­dents trav­eled from as far as Pi­o­neer Val­ley High School in Santa Maria, O’neals Minarets, Orosi, Corcoran, North High Bak­ers­field, Le­moore, Han­ford, Cen­tral Val­ley Chris­tian, El Dia­mante, Golden West, and Mt. Whit­ney in Visalia, Tu­lare, Wood­lake, Farm­ersville, Lind­say, Strath­more, Monache, Porter­ville, to the EUSH Ag Farm.

Crookham, EUSH ag staff and FFA stu­dents thanked judges David Atkin­son, Cody Baker, Tyler Baker, Zack Borges, Laura Gor­don, Tom Pinkham, A.J. Reed, Jon Stearns, and Lyle Ward. They are lo­cal cit­rus grow­ers, in­de­pen­dent fruit sprayers, or have pack­ing houses.

They also thanked Chris Bene­v­ides from Porter­ville Cit­rus, Roger Smith of Tree Source Nurs­ery, Greg Haury of Haury Farms, and Charles Duby of Se­quoia Or­anges for all their gen­eros­ity and sup­port do­nat­ing qual­ity fruit and trees to the con­test.

Stu­dents judged the qual­ity of grape­fruit, Man­darin or­anges, lemons, grape­fruit, and cit­rus trees.

They also learn to iden­tify dis­eases and dam­age on fruit, trees, and leaves and they need to de­fend their de­ci­sions with oral rea­sons and ex­pla­na­tions.

Twenty EUHS ag stu­dents worked as group lead­ers, mon­i­tor­ing the FFA stu­dent teams dur­ing the judg­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

“It takes a lot of peo­ple to or­ga­nize and make this con­test hap­pen,” said Crookham. Kevy Men­des, an­other in­struc­tor, said they al­ter­nate from year to year host­ing the con­test

with Golden West High in Visalia.

EUHS sopho­more Haylie Chavira said the FFA is great be­cause she gets to meet other peo­ple and travel a lot. She feels the cit­rus judg­ing is in­ter­est­ing, but the speak­ing com­pe­ti­tions are chal­leng­ing.

Ex­eter FFA won third place in the na­tional mar­ket­ing plan for Cen­tral Coast Meats in In­di­anapo­lis, In­di­ana, in Oc­to­ber 2018 for on­line meat sales, said Chavira and other stu­dents.

“It’s good for the fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of agri­cul­tur­ists to get judg­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Percy Roberts, EUSH senior and Chap­ter of­fi­cer who

grew up on a farm where they grew mostly cit­rus, cher­ries, av­o­ca­dos, pis­ta­chios, and hay. He says GMOS are the way of the fu­ture, be­cause the in­dus­try is try­ing to make HLB (Huan­g­long­bing) re­sis­tant cit­rus.

Lib­bie Jame­son, of Golden West in Visalia senior, has been cit­rus judg­ing for four years and has been to the state fi­nals. She says the com­pe­ti­tion is re­ally hard, so they need to step it up this year. She likes to judge or­anges, and says she’s grate­ful to the Ex­eter Ag depart­ment for spon­sor­ing the com­pe­ti­tion, adding it helps stu­dents get ready for the state fi­nals.

Me­gan Clarke, a fresh­man from Le­moore, says the cit­rus judg­ing is stress­ful but fun be­cause it’s based on opin­ion, and there are a lot of ways to judge the fruit.

Zack Borges, one of the judges, com­ple­mented all the FFA stu­dents on their or­ange judg­ing and said they did a fan­tas­tic job and should be very proud of them­selves in his re­marks about the com­pe­ti­tion.

Freya Du­pee from North High Bak­ers­field said it was her first year judg­ing cit­rus and it seemed hard at first, but now knows how to pick, find­ing what’s per­fect, which fruit has

blem­ishes, and what has a dis­ease.

“I’ve learned so much in a short amount of time,” she said.

Senior chap­ter FFA reporter Jerry An­ge­les from Porter­ville High thought the cit­rus judg­ing was easy, but said the judges threw in some blem­ishes on the fruit that were dif­fi­cult to iden­tify. He en­joys the judg­ing and says it helps you learn about the real world and what goes on.

Edith Gui­jon, Pres­i­dent of Wood­lake High FFA, won three com­pe­ti­tions and said she would like to be an agri­cul­tural teacher.

“It’s a great ex­pe­ri­ence,

and my ad­vi­sors have pushed me to be the best I can,” she said. “They’ve given me the op­por­tu­nity to learn while coach­ing the other stu­dents, and those two things are what I love the most.”

“The com­pe­ti­tion was re­ally com­pet­i­tive to­day, and I had a lot of fun see­ing so many peo­ple here,” said Han­nah Wil­lis, an Ex­eter sopho­more, “Thank you to my coach Dan Crookham. Judg­ing cit­rus is a lot of fun.”

Two more com­pe­ti­tions take place in Tu­lare and Han­ford this month be­fore the state fi­nals on Fe­bru­ary 2 at Fresno State.

RECORDER PHOTO BY CHIEKO HARA

FFA stu­dents put their judg­ing skills to the test at the Cit­rus Ca­reer Devel­op­ment Satur­day, Jan. 12 at Ex­eter High School. Over 140 FFA mem­bers from 20 dif­fer­ent schools through­out the Val­ley par­tic­i­pated.

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