Advice every FFA student should know before competitions


April Showers bring … more FFA competitions! For many students, they have their eyes on winning and advancing to the next round. After many study hours, a lot of hard work, and hours of practice tests they are about to put themselves to the true test. Although this can be a stressful time, it is important stay focused and remember to have fun. We asked FFA advisors for their expert advice during competition season.

  1. Believe in yourself! Douglas Brown, advisor at Central Columbia FFA said although this can be a stressful and busy time, he encourages the students to believe in themselves. Brown said, “Pace yourself to accomplish the tasks, plan and schedule your practice sessions with quality time not just time. Plan ahead to accomplish greatness, envision the success, make the practice sessions mirror the competitions and believe in what you are doing! Be excited about the opportunities that lie ahead which aids in seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
  2. Practice makes perfect! Justin Mauss, advisor at Carthage Technical Center said, “Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.” That’s the biggest pointer that I have for all of my students during contest season. Too often students and teams will work until they get it right but then slack off after they get it correct. Repetition and practicing the fundamentals will lead to success with the CDEs. The finer details will come so much easier after that. It doesn’t matter if it’s Livestock Evaluation or Parliamentary Procedure. It takes a great deal of work, but that’s my biggest tip to anyone out there who’s working on having a successful CDE or LDE team.
  3. Work hard during the school year! The advisor at Oak Ridge High School, Nick Thiel, said, “My goal for this next school year is to develop my classroom instruction to include the various requirements of each of the Career Development Events and Leadership Development Events in our instruction. For example, while teaching Poultry in the Ag Science I class, I plan to have each student complete the requirements of the Poultry Judging CDE as part of our lab activities. It is my hope this will embed those competencies into ALL the students in the class. Then, when it is time for Spring competitions, we should have a number of competent Poultry Judges ready to review those skills and represent our chapter at the district level in the Poultry Judging CDE. Since our campus uses Google Classroom for instruction, any lessons we develop that include the CDE competencies can be shared with other teachers across the state who wish to incorporate them into their instructional program. Working together, we can ensure all students have instructional opportunities that will help them excel in their career development — and, perhaps, become National CDE winners!”
  4. Ask questions! From Casper FFA in Wyoming, Brock Burch told both advisors and students: “Don’t be afraid to ask that dumb question. Students, ask those silly questions. The only way you will be able to know an answer is to ask. Advisors, ask others who are more knowledgeable than you in other areas. When you broaden your horizon, you also broaden the students opportunities. A lot of people will tell advisors, just focus on what you know — which is sound advice — but as an advisor I try and focus on what the student wants to do.”
  5. Be tenacious! Brock also said, “If you want something, you have to be willing to work for it and go get it. There is nothing that can’t be accomplished if you put in enough time and effort.” 
  6. Be comfortable and confident! Once you have studied and perfected the fundamentals, take time to remember — you got this! When you feel confident in yourself, it shows throughout your performance. Most mistakes come when we second guess ourselves.

No matter what you do, be proud of your performance! Even though winning is the end goal, remember there is so much more to learn than what is on paper. You will create many memories while you prepare for your competitions that may just last a lifetime.


Lots more of our FFA articles can be found at this link here!

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