Nov. 3 2023 09:00 PM

Sara Reed of Pennsylvania FFA takes high individual honors.

Coach Travis Larson, Luke Larson, Josh Larson (dairy handler), Lilly Larson, Jenna Larson, Sophia Caves, and coach Colleen Larson

Forty-one FFA teams traveled to Indianapolis, Ind., last week to compete in the National FFA Career Development Event (CDE) for Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Management. On Wednesday, the four-person teams presented their recommendations to three judges that assumed the role of a dairy farm owner after reviewing the farm’s management records. They then each took a written exam that would be added to their individual score. On Thursday, the judged six classes and gave three sets of oral reasons. The top four teams and top 10 individuals (in random order) were announced on Friday afternoon, with the final placings announced Friday evening during the sixth session of the National FFA Convention.

Team rankings

Florida was represented by Okeechobee Brahman FFA, and all members earned Gold individual rankings. Team members included siblings Lilly Larson and Luke Larson, their cousin Jenna Larson, and Sophia Caves. Lilly Larson was third while Jenna Larson was seventh individually. The team placed second at the All-American Dairy Show a few weeks ago in Harrisburg, Pa., with Jenna being swapped for her brother, Josh.

The Larson FFA members are the fifth generation to dairy farm in Florida. They are coached by Travis and Colleen Larson. To add to the family feel, Sophia has the nickname of “Sophia Larson” because she is heavily involved in the dairy activities of her teammates. Josh Larson competed in the dairy handlers contest this year and earned a Silver Award. He looks to be on a judging team in the future.

Ohio took home reserve honors with the team from Mechanicsburg, Ohio. Team members were Ella Conley, Lillian Marsh. Faith Ford, and Kaitlynn Haynes. Lillian was eighth individual.

Fennimore FFA from Wisconsin was represented by team members Matthew Winch, Wesley Winch, Nicholas Needham, and Rose French. Matthew Winch was second place individual, and Wesley Winch was fourth. All four Wisconsin FFA members earned Gold individual honors.

Central California’s Los Banos FFA team members included Matthew Pacheco, Karley Rocha, Brooklyn Silva, and Zoey Wooten. The team won the management scenario portion of the contest, and Matthew Pacheco was fifth individual.

The top teams are invited to judge at the Royal Highlands Show in Scotland next summer. Rounding out the top 10 teams were Utah FFA, Kentucky FFA, Oregon FFA, Illinois FFA, Pennsylvania FFA, and Virginia FFA.

Individual honors

Pennsylvania FFA member Sara Reed earned the high individual honors after placing six classes, giving three sets of oral reasons, and taking the written test. Other top placings were Jacy Saemrow of Minnesota FFA in sixth, Katelyn Tabor of Kentucky FFA in ninth, and Warren Leak of Utah FFA placing 10th.

Matthew Winch won the Holstein breed and was the top in oral reasons.

The high score on the written test went to Jenna Larson. She is currently a state FFA officer and will be attending the University of Florida next year. She earned additional prize money for her top test score. No doubt years of doing Dairy Jeopardy helped prepare her for the written exam.

Dairy handlers contest

Maddy Hensel of Pittsville FFA in Wisconsin won the Dairy Cattle Handlers Activity. Participants were evaluated while they presented the cattle for the dairy cattle evaluation contestants.

Patti Hurtgen

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