WVHS FFA students score big at district and sub-state level competitions


WVHS FFA students score big at district and sub-state level competitions

May 11, 2021

Warwick Valley’s National FFA Organization (FFA) group has remained very active this year, despite having to operate almost fully online due to the circumstances of the pandemic. Its members have been as engaged as ever and their dedication and hard work continue to pay off.

Warwick Valley High School’s FFA team placed 1st in Parliamentary Procedure at the 2021 Eastern Sub-State Leadership Development Event, following their 2nd place finish at the district level.

The proud winning team members are Chairperson Aiden Hamilton, Co-President Sean Parkinson, Lizbeth Varela Cordero, Thomas Kanz, Chapter Vice President John Ruszkiewicz, and Allison King.

Thomas Kanz also placed 1st in Sr. Extemporaneous Public Speaking at Sub-States.

The team is now moving on to compete in the virtual New York State FFA Convention.

Warwick Valley High School has been a long-time participant in the programs and competitions of the National FFA Organization, a group still most familiar to many by its original name, Future Farmers of America. Today, FFA still has a strong core focus on agricultural education, but the organization is well known for its programs designed to prepare youths for success in leadership, as well as personal and career growth.

As FFA states, the organization aims to develop members’ potential and help them discover their talents through hands-on experiences, which also helps members develop individual skill sets to achieve real-world successes. FFA members have gone on to become teachers, veterinarians, chemists, entrepreneurs, bankers, international business leaders, politicians, and other “premier professionals in many career fields.”

“FFA offers a lot of different awards and activities, but much of the focus is on leadership,” explained teacher and FFA advisor Nancy Colgan. “These competitions are part of what’s called their Leadership Development Events (LDE).”

FFA & Parliamentary Procedure
Students who participate in the Parliamentary Procedure LDE are evaluated on their ability to conduct an orderly and efficient meeting using parliamentary procedure, and are judged on their “knowledge of parliamentary law and their ability to present logical, realistic and convincing debate and motions.”

WVHS’s FFA team were challenged to demonstrate their ability to apply Robert’s Rules of Order to conduct a meeting. The mock meetings must include: main motion; two incidental motions; two subsidiary motions; a privileged motion or a motion to bring again before the assembly. Following the meeting, students must speak to the motions they were assigned and complete a 50-question test. 

“This is all part of what’s called agricultural education,” said Ms. Colgan. “We are primarily building up confidence in our students so they are able to present in front of groups and carry themselves in public and business settings.”

Aiden Hamilton explained further how the FFA has grown to meet the changing needs of youths coming up into varied industries, including agriculture, in America and around the world.

“The way [parliamentary procedure] ties into the Future Farmers of America is that it teaches you to present in meetings,” said Aiden. “I was pretty anxious when I was younger, so I had trouble presenting. I joined FFA and now I’m much more confident and can present really well.”

FFA & Extemporaneous Speaking

The Extemporaneous Public Speaking LDE is where knowledge and improvisation meet, as students are given a chance to “showcase their agricultural knowledge and ability to think on their feet” by writing a speech, then answering related questions, all within a limited timeframe.

Extemporaneous speakers are given 30 minutes to prepare a four to six-minute speech on a given agricultural topic to a panel of judges. The students then must answer five minutes of questions on their topic.

“The Extemporaneous Public Speaking competition has been a great experience for me,” said Thomas. “I greatly enjoy public speaking and this event has allowed me to improve my public speaking skills. I am thankful for the opportunity I had to compete and place in the Extemporaneous Public Speaking Event.”

Ms. Colgan explained that this specific LDE encourages students to do more than just practice their presentation skills.

“They work on things like logical thinking, clear articulations,” added Ms. Colgan. 

Students Love FFA

“FFA is a great community organization and a great way to get involved in the school community,” said Aiden, who enjoys meeting participating FFA students from all 50 states and beyond! “It’s just a great way to meet lots of people from all different walks of life.”

Often, FFA students also say that their involvement is generational.

“My older sister was in FFA before me, and I just remembered her going to all these events and being involved in so much,” said Alison. “I always thought it seemed so interesting, so when my agriculture teacher encouraged FFA involvement I joined. I’m so glad I did because I learned a lot from being in the field and doing all of these competitions.”

“You get to work with a lot of really great, different people, whether it’s on a parliamentary procedure team, or an individual project like an agricultural project,” said Thomas. “That’s also been great for building one of the most critical skills of all, cooperation.”

The WVHS FFA continues to do great in-school work as well, including their Safety Backpack drive for area migrant workers, their recent release of pollinators into the ecosystem, their trout study, and their ongoing greenhouse, which yields beautiful specimens every year for their Mother’s Day Plant Sale.


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