Wednesday, September 25, 2013

FFA Forestry Contest; Ten Years And Counting

The Mrs. and I have been hosting the FFA Forestry Contest for our part of Illinois for ten years now. The first one we did was educational for us as well as the students, and we refine our approach a bit every year. The weather was perfect this time, and everyone was relaxed and happy to be at Sam Dale Lake.
Tree Identification is tough for the students who have never had a formal class in dendrology. I was going to ask one of the kids to look up with a puzzled expression, and realized that I wouldn't have to ask.

We made our own map interpretation test. The state and national tests concentrate on topo maps, but we added in a tough section on plat books, which require knowledge of the Public Land Survey System. Midwestern farm kids need that knowledge.

Chainsaws are part of the national contest this year, and we had labels stuck all over three saws.

The General Knowledge test provided by the University of Illinois is much better now than it was a few years ago; questions are more useful and less obscure than in the past. We added a section on chainsaw safety to prep the kids for the next level.

I tell FFA classes that they should score 100% on Equipment ID, because they have a list of possible items to study. All they have to do is look up images of everything on the list in catalogs or on the internet. Some don't listen to me, and the easiest part of the contest knocks them down.
Timber measurement is trying for kids who have never done it before. I use this contest as an opportunity to instruct kids who are going to state so they can do better at the next contest. Next year we drop a couple sections and add in Compass and Pacing, and Timber Management.

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