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UWRF celebrates 50th annual Agricultural Technology Contest

March 11, 2010

The 50th annual Agricultural Technology Contest is being held at UW-River Falls on Saturday, March 27.

“This year we are very excited to be celebrating the 50th Agricultural Technology Contest, and in addition to our contests, we will also be hosting a program for past student coordinators and individuals that have been involved in the contest throughout the years,” Agricultural Technology Contest Coordinator, Kellie Claflin said.

The Agricultural Technology Contest consists of 16 various agriculturally-related contests for middle and high school students. The contests this year range from Ag Communications to Middle School Plant Science and Livestock Evaluation and Wildlife.

“The scope of the contest broadened over the past 50 years to match changes to the agriculture courses taught in high schools,” said Tim Buttles, faculty chair for the Agricultural Technology Contest. “We have maintained the original areas such as dairy and livestock evaluation while adding events for students with interests across the spectrum of agriculture, food and natural resources.”

Two of the contests are set up for the middle school students and 14 are set up for the high school students. According to the Agricultural Technology Contest press release, “This year, UWRF coordinates the Wisconsin FFA state contests for agricultural communications and food science and technology. The first-place teams will advance to compete at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind. this October.”

Six of the contests will also be qualifying contests for the Wisconsin FFA Association Career Development Events (CDE), which is being held April 30 in Madison, Wis.

The first event, which was initiated in 1961, hosted 600 students from 17 high schools. According to the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) history group, “The Agricultural Technology contest was initiated for the purpose of providing an opportunity to Wisconsin vocational agriculture students to test their skills and knowledge in agriculture.”

Since then, the contest has grown from 10 events to 16, and almost 1,000 students visit the campus for the contest each year. The middle school contests were implemented in 2007.

“More than anything, this contest serves as a great recruitment tool for the University. It gives these students an opportunity to see what it’s like on a college campus. For most students, it’s a new experience and gives them a picture of what college is going to be like,” Claflin said.

The event is being run by 150 student volunteers who help with proctoring the tests and serve as group leaders for the students.

“We start preparing for the contest over a year in advance. Students, faculty and staff from all CAFES departments volunteer their time to set up the different events,” Buttles said.

For Assistant Student Coordinator Michelle Heeg, the experience volunteering for the event years before college influenced her decision to attend UWRF. “The contest gives the students a point of reference. It gives them a taste of what they could do in college and provides them with skills they could potentially use in their future careers.”

Anyone interested in volunteering or learning more about the event can e-mail michelle.heeg@uwrf.edu or get information from office 324 in the Agricultural Science building.