SDSU students who are learning outside of the realms of agriculture may feel baffled at the sight of the hundreds of high school FFA students who visit campus for three days every year.
This is who they are, this is what they do.
The students are part of the South Dakota chapter of the national group Future Farmers of America, and they come to attend the state convention.
The event, which was held April 6-8, includes over 30 springtime contests like plant identification, livestock grading, dairy foods judging and wildlife and natural resource contests.
The top winners go on to a national convention in Louisville, KY.
Students attend sessions and listen to speakers. There is also a Monday-night dance and a talent show.
“You meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends,” said Lacey Head, a freshman high school student from Florence, SD.
She also said it’s interesting to experience life on a college campus, and to see hometown alumni who attend SDSU. Graduate student Luke Muller also hails from Florence. He has a degree in agriculture education from SDSU, and is working on a geography degree.
Muller said the FFA program is valuable for high school students going into agricultural majors.
“It helps to have an agricultural perspective for anyone having a different major if they end up at college,” Muller said.
“It makes perfect sense for a business major to have an FFA background in South Dakota.”
The convention is a supplement to many of the students, who take FFA classes in their high schools.
“One thing I’ve learned is that different schools have completely different ways of teaching,” Muller said.
He said the FFA program, which has chapters in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, can be useful in helping high school students prepare for life after graduation.
“Some schools have classes that help more for college,” said Muller.
He also said classes can also prepare students who go to technical school or to work on a farm.