School of Agricultural Sciences Hosts Career Development Events
April 14, 2022
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti
Each year, Sam Houston State University hosts a variety of events for high school students throughout Texas involved in the national FFA organization. These events allow students to participate in career-focused competitions to help build their agriculture industry knowledge, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, and showcase technical skills.
The activities also provide high school students with a sneak-peak of college life on the SHSU campus and serve as a great recruitment opportunity for the university. Informal research has shown that more than 40 percent of participants in FFA events at SHSU are interested in attending the university, and approximately 40 percent are interested in academic majors other than agriculture.
One big event taking place on campus every spring is the Career Development Events (CDE) day. The SHSU School of Agricultural Sciences works with the Texas FFA organization to host the state CDE contest. FFA high school members participate in contests focused on specific areas of agriculture such as floriculture, sales and marketing, agribusiness management, nursery/landscape and more.
Commonly called “judging contests,” the School of Agricultural Sciences has a long history of hosting FFA students on campus, a tradition that goes back almost 90 years according to Dwayne Pavelock, professor of agricultural education.
“A different faculty member in the school serves as the superintendent for each event and coordinates the materials, logistics and facilities,” Pavelock said. “Approximately 150 SHSU agricultural students and graduate assistants facilitate the events.”
This year, more than 200 schools and 2,000 high school students and teachers took part in 13 events hosted by SHSU on April 12.
Amber Gentry, a School of Agricultural Sciences graduate student, coordinated the horse judging CDE.
“In the horse judging contest, high school students evaluate horses from English and Western disciplines,” Gentry said. “Students must know the anatomical and skeletal parts of the horse to compare to the industry standard and practice decision making skills to place the horses accordingly.”
For the contest, students from the SHSU Stock Horse team and the SHSU Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Equitation team provided the horses and riders. According to Gentry, this gives team members a chance to practice in preparation for competitions across the state.
Ethan Hammit, an agricultural business major, serves as a School of Agriculture Ambassador. Representing the university, he actively answers questions students have during the day while urging them to consider SHSU as they near high school graduation.
“My role also includes supporting students to do their best in the contests and try to help calm their competition nerves,” Hammit said. “I feel it is important to encourage and interact with the younger students to help them realize they are great at what they do and remind them to always follow their passions.”
Pavelock believes the greatest value of these types of activities is two-fold.
“Participants get to improve themselves by applying what they’ve learned in the classroom and laboratory, and they get to see a university they may otherwise never consider,” he said. “The school hosts a total of three large competitions each year, that’s more than 5,000 young individuals who are exposed to the great things that Sam Houston has to offer.”
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