Preparing the next generation of agriculture leaders, high school students compete at 2017 Nevada FFA Convention | nnbw.com

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Preparing the next generation of agriculture leaders, high school students compete at 2017 Nevada FFA Convention

More than 550 high school students from across Nevada attended the 88th annual Nevada FFA State Convention to compete in agriculture career development events held at the University of Nevada, Reno from March 21 to March 25.

Students from 24 Nevada FFA chapters competed in an array of events that tested their technical skills, problem solving capabilities, abilities to work in teams, public speaking abilities and more.

"They are using those skills to prepare for the workforce," Jessica Fagundes, public information officer for the Nevada Department of Agriculture, said.

Over the course of the convention, FFA members demonstrate and are judged on their technical skills in the areas of floriculture, veterinary science, milk quality and products and meat quality to name a few.

“They are using those skills to prepare for the workforce.”Jessica Fagundespublic information officer for the Nevada Department of Agriculture

Students spend hours practicing these skills leading up to the convention. In 2015, Nevada FFA students spent an estimated collective 150,000 hours preparing for career development events.

Several of the events were held at local businesses such as Sparks Florist, Rail City Garden Center and Wolf Pack Meats. This gives students the opportunity to meet local employers as well as for businesses to see first hand how students are preparing for the workforce.

"They are focusing on real world jobs that we need now," Fagundes said about the FFA members.

She explained that the economic impact of agriculture as an industry is many times overlooked in Nevada.

According to a recent report by the Nevada Department of Agriculture, the total economic contribution to Nevada's economy from all the agricultural sector activities was $1.8 billion in 2015. The report also states that Nevada's food and agriculture sector provided 15,583 jobs in 2015 accounting for 1 percent of the total state employment.

"It is not just the economic impact but the food and fiber we are providing for our citizens," Fagundes said.

The convention also gives high school students the opportunity to visit UNR's campus. Fagundes explained that they see many FFA students not only go on to attend UNR but also pursue fields of study relating to food and agriculture.

"The stuff we are doing here is truly going to impact the future of agriculture," Trey Elizondo, National Western Region vice president for the National FFA Organization, said in an interview with NNBW at the convention.

Elizondo has been a part of FFA since 2011. He grew up on a beef and cattle farm in Yoakum, Texas.

"So FFA was a natural fit," Elizondo said.

While his upbringing is what originally drew him to FFA, the leadership skills he learned through the organization inspired him to run for a national FFA position.

"It is really a great opportunity to truly change the lives of members across the nation," Elizondo said.

He explained that there are 2,800 FFA members in the state of Nevada and 635,355 FFA members nationwide.

For more information on Nevada FFA, visit http://nvaged.nv.gov/.