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FFA

It’s a sign of spring, just like daffodils blooming and robins building their first nest.

You can’t help but notice the navy blue jackets with gold embroidered names and the letters, FFA emblazoned on them, being worn by hundreds of young people who are downtown, on the UNL campus and everywhere else in Lincoln.

The state FFA event is happening in the Capital City.

Getting an upclose look at these kids, as I did while doing Master Gardener volunteer duty at a UNL/FFA horticulture contest, made it clear that they are here for more than a shopping spree at the Gap and a chance to stay up all night at their hotels for two nights.

Nebraska hosts 17 CDEs, (aka career development events) in everything from communication to mechanics.

Watching 150 of the FFA members from mostly small towns and consolidated schools work through 90 minutes of tests in the “Landscape and Nursery” division, was fascinating. In that department alone, students have options to compete in the ag biotechnology, agronomy, and floriculture contests.

Last night they came prepared to identify plants, solve landscaping problems and test their general horticulture knowledge. Each school entered teams of four kids, whose total scores would be combined for a final tally.

The questions were tough, thanks to Anne Streich, a UNL horticulture and agronomy assistant professor, who has run the tests for many years. But even with that, one student managed to get all 25 correct in the plant identification portion and others came close to that perfect score.

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What started out as Future Farmers of America -- and they don’t go by that moniker anymore -- has grown and expanded with the times.

So look past the navy jackets and see that these kids are on their way to bigger and better things.

But they are not quite there yet, so watch out when they cross the streets in groups of 12.

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Reach Kathryn Cates Moore at 402-473-7214 or at  kmoore@journalstar.com.

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