Everyone in the Ripley FFA chapter has been working very hard!

Our members went to the Spring Career Development Event (CDEs) competitions at West Virginia University in Morgantown and Pierpont Tech in Fairmont on May 31 and June 1.

The high school teams were: Food Science – Pheobe Rawson, Carter Taylor, Rae Knopp and Timothy Rogers; Vet Science – Renee Varnell, Ethan Wright, Kirsten Hinzman and Jalin Goedel; Milk Products – Zach Baker, Robert Zane Summers, Cody Harrison and Austin Anderson; Agriculture Technical and Mechanical Systems – Brandon Hall, Megan Casto, Caleb Banton and Seth Spaulding; Nursery Landscape – Rachel Kerns, Sara Hughart, Megan Lowery and Alexis Knopp; Farm Business Management – Courtney Brown, Alexandra Dean, Taylor Derenburger and Rae Knopp.

The middle school division competitions consisted of: Food Science – Hallie Turley, Breanna Anderson, Alaina Stanley and Riley Knotts; and seventh- and eighth-grade Agriscience – Kaylee Donohew, Jeremiah Fields, Shane Harpold and Rebecca Kerns.

Other contests were Entomology, Agronomy and Plant Pathology, for which we do not have competitors or teams.

Some of our competitors are also seniors, so this was their last competition, unless they won first place. Then, they “punched their ticket to Nationals!” That’s what Mr. Canterbury says, for he always encourages us to do our very best. Of course, our teams always go up hoping to come back with first place and a trip to Nationals.

This time, we came home with three first-place teams and four first-place individuals!

Going in the order of the awards ceremony, we started with the middle school competitions, which are Agriscience and Food science. Our Agriscience team placed sixth. The Food Science team had Breanna Anderson placing eighth, Hallie Turley placing sixth and Alaina Stanley placing first as individuals, while the entire team placed first overall.

Next up, we had the high school division, whose competitions were held at Pierpont Tech in Fairmont.

For Food Science, Rae Knopp placed fifth individually and lead the team to their third-place seat. As for Vet Science, we had a freshman, Ethan Wright, place eighth, while the team placed fourth overall.

Then, we had the School of Agriculture and Food competitions, which were Milk Quality and Products, Agronomy, Entomology, Nursery Landscape and Plant Pathology. The entire Nursery Landscape team placed individually in the top 10. Alexis Knopp placed 10th; Sara Hughart placed eighth; Rachel Kerns took second; and Megan Lowry lead the team with first. All of them brought back a team placing of first for a trip to Nationals!

Sadly, the team of boys for Milk Quality and Products did not place in the top 10, individually or as a team.

Next, we had the School of Design and Community Development contest, which consisted of only one competition, Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems. Our team had the individuals, Brandon Hall, Caleb Banton, and Seth Spaulding placing fifth, second and first, respectively, in the competition, with the team placing first overall.

Finally, we have the Farm Business Management competition, which was a part of the School of Natural Resources division. Out of our team of girls, Courtney Brown placed third and Alexandra Dean placed first as individuals, bringing the team to place first overall.

For the FFA Sweepstakes, the Ripley FFA chapter placed second overall. This year, Wirt county “took the Gold.” This was a great year regardless, though, for we have teams going to nationals in October!

In other news, Land Judging was held on May 11 in St. Albans in Kanawha County. The weather was hot and rough on our team, but Sara Hughart, Renee Varnell, Rae Knopp and Alexis Knopp had fun and came home with a podium placing of second (and also some sunburns!).

The 2017 Land Judging team of James Canterbury, Courtney Brown, Natasha Paugh and John Jones were able­ to compete at the National Land Judging competition held in Oklahoma May 1-3, and also landed a podium spot of third place. Courtney Brown also came home with an individual placing of ninth. We are so proud of our girl Courtney! Sadly, though, the team is losing James Canterbury and Natasha Paugh due to them being seniors.

That goes to show how much work our coaches do when they teach these kids and how much effort the kids put into studying for these competitions. These kids are in it to win it and will do all they can to succeed.

Signing off, this is Rayne Thompson for the Ripley FFA.

I hope the sun shines on a rainy day to create a rainbow in the sky.