Throughout the past four months, that Liberty Union FFA has been busy preparing for the Forestry CDE. This rigorous event requires the students to know over 50 different species of trees, identify numerous forestry tools, chainsaws, conduct scientific studies for a timber stand improvement along with identify different forestry problems found in the Ohio Region. The team consisted of Ray Chestnut, Ali Ety, Alex Gibbs, Mya Gorsuch, Michael Hiles, Ethan Kaper, Kaylee Savage and Lucas Slone. These students would spend hours each week studying and preparing with various coaches and college instructors to obtain the knowledge needed to succeed with this contest.
After leaving the contest on September 30 at Hocking College the team was overwhelmed with the amount of content that was presented. Over 7 hours of testing occurred and they were drained. Later that night the team was astonished when they found out that they were the number 1 team in the state and would represent Ohio at the National Contest held in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 26. Excited and overwhelmed are two words that come to mind when talking to the 4 top scores for the Liberty Union team that would represent Ohio.
These four individuals consisting of Alex Gibbs who was the number 1 individual in the state, Ray Chestnut, Ali Ety and Kaylee Savage had to make a commitment to the contest and study a completely new type of forestry problems in a matter of 14 days. Learning all species of trees throughout the United States was the easiest part of this contest. They needed to learn the forestry industry inside and out and it took numerous foresters and the cooperation of Hocking College to get there. The team turned to Fred Walter who has helped them throughout the course of the events for guidance and information on how to become successful. They practiced everyday for numerous hours and it paid off.
When arriving to the contest they were greeted with a paper test, a test that many of the students after completion stated that it was the hardest test they have ever seen. Not letting the test discourage their ambition of being in the top 15 teams in the nation, the team prepared for the events to come the following day. They studied topography maps, chainsaws, diseases and injuries, compass courses, timber improvement plans, timber products, tools, forestry math, and timber harvesting.
Upon arrival to the contest the next day the students loaded the bus for what became the longest event they have ever completed. Over 13 hours of testing occurred to determine the final placings of the teams throughout the nation. Little Liberty Union was exhausted and overwhelmed with the event and thought there was little hope for them to achieve their goal of a top 15 team.
When they arrived at the awards banquet the next day, the team sat there nervous and hopeful. Patiently waiting to hear their names called, finding out that they were 3 gold rated individuals and 1 silver rated individual. More importantly, they found out that they were a gold rated team and ended up placing 4th in the nation, which was something that they never thought they could do and a first in Liberty Union history. Alex Gibbs also placed 8th individually in the nation which gave him a $700.00 check to use for his education.
Liberty Union FFA travelled to Indianapolis,
Indiana for the National FFA Convention. Wednesday,
October 25th through Saturday, October 28th, the
chapter went to sessions held by the national officers, spent productive hours at a national career show, and toured many different businesses like Sunrise Cooperative and DOW Agrisciences where they learned about the ways the businesses work and got to see them in action.
The chapter also had many projects that were
entered at the Fairfield County Fair. The chapter had 13 members show an animal project at the fair. The members work hard throughout the spring and summer to get their animals to ideal shape for the competition at the fair and have a blast doing so. The chapter also entered insect collection boxes, electrical boards, small woodworking projects and welding boards to be judged against the rest of the FFA chapters in the county. Twelve of the chapters members placed top 5 with their projects. The Fairfield County Fair is a fun filled, competitive week that the members look forward to every year.