By Hayley Fedor
As one of the primary extracurricular activities offered at Randall Middle School, the FFA department had the opportunity to represent the school at the State FFA Competition earlier this year and brought back the gold. Both the Food Science and Technology team as well as the Meats Evaluation team placed first out of five other top schools in their categories.
On January 30, the State FFA Competition for Food Science and Technology took place virtually as a result of the pandemic, which prevented the teams from competing at the University of Florida; however, later in the year on April 17, the state competition for Meats Evaluation occurred in person at the University of Florida.
“Winning the competition after studying and practicing for months showed that being determined and working hard pays off in the end,” said Brittany Andrews, advisor and coach for the Meats Evaluation team at Randall Middle School.
Behind the scenes, both teams put in the work; the first-place Food Science and Technology team practiced twice a week after school from September until the competition day, and the Meats Evaluation team visited local meat markets to speak to professional butchers and learn about different cuts of meat in person.
For the Food Science and Technology team, practicing consisted of “…a marketing [or] product development scenario. They would have one hour to read the scenario, pick the ingredients, develop a product and create a marketing pitch based on the information given to them in the scenario,” said Kathryn Mendenall, advisor and coach for the Food Science and Technology team at Randall Middle School.
During the actual state competition, the Randall students were tasked with creating a breakfast sandwich and a marketing proposal. In response, the team pitched a product to the judges called Bakin’ Bagels which stole the show.
“Sometimes, these events allow the students to learn even more material than they would from our traditional curriculum,” said Mendenall.
On the other hand, the Meats Evaluation team demonstrated their knowledge at the state competition by identifying different retail cuts of meat on different animals and by taking a 20-question written examination.
As attested by Randall FFA Coaches Andrews and Mendenall, participating in the FFA program and having the opportunity to compete in state-level competition not only cultivates students’ leadership potential but also emphasizes the positive impact that agricultural education can have on their careers in the future.