Kentucky's Spencer County FFA

Coach Baird, Tanner Goodlett, Marissa Allen, Jacob Whitely and Ryan Linton

Winning the 2015 National FFA Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Management Career Development Event (CDE) was Kentucky's Spencer County FFA. Team members were Tanner Goodlett, Ryan Linton, Marissa Allen and Jacob Whitely. You could say consistency won it for them, as team members individually placed fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. Their individual scores were separated by a mere nine points. All four team members' scores counted in the final tally and topped the next team by 42 points.

The high individual in the contest was Jake Leman of Prairie Central FFA in Illinois, pacing the Illinois team to a second team finish. He topped the second high individual, Mason Jauquet of Wisconsin, by four points. The spread between second and third was larger, 13 points, over third place winner, Florida's Cady McGehee.

Rounding out the top 10 individuals were Grayson Cottrell of Illinois, Kara Wilson of Georgia and Jacob Hanaway of Indiana.

Indiana placed third, followed by Florida and Wisconsin. Completing the top 10 team placings were Georgia, Michigan, Virginia and California. Forty-three teams competed.

The top three individuals, Jake, Mason, and Cady were recognized on stage at the National FFA Convention in front of a record-breaking crowd of 65,173 FFA members and supporters in Louisville, Ky., last Saturday.

The contest consisted of judging six placings classes, three sets of reasons, a 50-question exam (including DHI record understanding) and participating in a dairy farm evaluation exercise. Disease and health were the focus area of the team event this year. Each of the students contributes to the 10-minute team presentation as they offer a consultant viewpoint of the dairy. Judges then have five minutes to ask the team questions.

Competition at the state level is stiff, so just advancing to the national contest is an achievement itself. Kentucky's Spencer County FFA, coached by Bland Baird, won the contest in 2015, 2014 and 2013 after finishing fifth in 2012. Bland's teams also won the contest in 2011, 2008 and 2005.

Read my blog next week to learn how Bland Baird prepares his team.

Learn more about the contest from the Jim Ertl, the superintendent of the contest:

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The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.