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22. NCRS Supports the Future of Agriculture: The FFA

                                                       By Jessi Nash, NCRS Associate

“I believe in the future of agriculture…” E. M. Tiffany said it best. Agriculture has a bright future with a multitude of new technologies currently being developed and much more that are currently only a thought. But, one of the most promising avenues within the future of agriculture, is the youth of today. Here at the NCRS, we know the importance of teaching and developing the leaders of tomorrow. Over this past year, the North Central Research Station (NCRS) was able to host a multitude of events that focused on the betterment of today’s youth.

One of the largest events that the NCRS focuses on is the Michigan FFA Crop Management Challenge (CMC). The FFA CMC allows FFA students throughout the state of Michigan to develop a crop fertility program for a corn and/or soybean test plot. After selecting their fertility program, students are responsible for monitoring the growth of their plots and sharing their progress on social media. Students must also present their nutrient plan, as well as any other significant findings to a panel of judges. Once the plots are harvested, the student teams will get their yield results and use those to calculate whether their “farm” operated at profit or loss and put those results in a final report. Final reports are then graded by the CMC Committee and teams are then ranked by the final scores. The CMC affords students the opportunity to expand their network as they work with local growers and agronomists to develop the most productive and efficient crop nutrition plan.

Leading up to the FFA Crop Management Challenge, The NCRS also hosts a couple field days for the FFA contestants, where representatives from the industry explain concepts like growth stages, stand counts, planter operations, and many other important aspects of agronomy. Many students have had great feedback on the contest over the past years with many returning students in the contest this year.

Working in collaboration with AgroLiquid’s IQhub, the NCRS has hosted over 222 group visits to all ages over the years.  From school field trips, commodity groups, and other agricultural businesses, we offer the opportunity to get a first-hand look at the operation of the NCRS and demonstrate and present on a variety of agronomic topics.  

A highlight in 2021 was the ability to host The Clinton County 4-H Dairy Clubs’ Dairy Quiz Bowl Contest, which was open to counties all over the state. 4-H members study dairy cattle, health & nutrition, management decisions, and milk marketing. 8 different counties were able to join in on the NCRS hosted event, as well as a multitude of professionals within the Dairy Industry that were able to help judge and moderate the contest. Of course the evening ended with awards, laughter, and lots of ice cream.

At the NCRS, we see the value in education and providing opportunity for young leaders to grow, find their passions, and develop a sense of professionalism, in order to bring their dreams and aspirations to fruition. We are fortunate enough to have been able to host these events and are enthusiastic about more opportunities to work with youth in the future.

(June 6, 2022)