Farmers of the future

They came in droves, clad in matching blue and gold jackets with clipboards in hand.

Every day was a new set of competitions aimed at testing the skills acquired throughout their time in the Montana Future Farmers of America Organization.

From Monday, May 1 to Wednesday, May 3, these young adults from 55 FFA chapters all over Montana bounced around Big Timber and competed in the annual FFA Career Development Events (CDE).

The events ranged from floriculture, job interviews and food science, to horse judging and veterinary science. Each student or team was judged based on their performance and understanding of what they were expected to do. 

Casey and Jeneva Lunceford, Sweet Grass County High School FFA advisors and coordinators for the competition, bid out the event last June to the Montana Agricultural Teachers Association, arguing that the location would be ideal for this new event because Big Timber was “fairly centralized” and the number of FFA members participating in Big Timber are near peak levels.

In the past, the CDE’s would be scattered around the state and school’s would bid to host one or two contests over a weekend. Last year, the Big Timber team travelled to Glendive one weekend and Missoula the next.

“The big trouble we had too was that (the schools) did it right over the state basketball tournament so we lost a lot of kids just because of that,” Casey said of the previous year’s CDE Days.

So the Lunceford’s decided that hosting one large event over a single weekend would give students a chance to compete in as many categories as possible without the extra stress of traveling. The Luncefords worked with FFA alumni members, Crazy Mountain Stockgrowers and Crazy Peak Cattlewomen to get the event on its feet.

“They were pretty gung-ho to help there,” he said.

The event also attracted quite a few new volunteers that hadn’t previously been involved in the club.

“If nothing else, we found so many more supporters than we had before,” he said, noting that one teacher who judged the food science expressed an interest in coaching the team for that event next year.

To read the full story, pick up the May 11 edition of the Pioneer or subscribe to our e-edition. Current subscribers are provided complimentary access to the e-edition with registration.


Story and photos by Olivia Keith / Pioneer Staff Writer


Dacey Burkle, an 8th grader from Plevna, pretends to place ear drops into a rabbit’s ear during the veterinary science competition at the fairgrounds, Tuesday, May 2. FFA members from nearly 55 chapters around the state traveled to Big Timber for Career Development Event Days, three days of competitions aimed at testing their skills acquired in the FFA program.



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