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Seventy-one teams in Florida attempted to earn a spot in the state finals this year in the FFA Aqua-culture CDE by taking a written exam about the many aspects of Florida aquaculture.
Ten high school teams and 10 middle school teams earned the right to compete for the state title in Ruskin at the Tropical Aquaculture Lab.
The teams then would compete in fish identification, plant identification, water quality testing, parasite identification and management, another written exam and a team activity. The team activity consists of a real life aquaculture problem to diagnose, treat and manage symptoms described by a fish farmer and present their plan to a panel of aquaculture experts.
Both of Cedar key’s FFA chapters – middle and high schools – made the cut to the state finals. For the first time in the contests’ history, one school won both the high school and middle school divisions – the smallest school in Florida winning the biggest trophy. It was such a big deal to the Florida aquaculture association that they personally called Cedar Key FFA advisor Denny Voyles with the news as the team was traveling back to Cedar key.
The high school team consisted of Taryn Epperson, junior, who also tied for high individual in the state; Michael Shewey, junior, third highest score in the state; Taylor Davison, sophomore, fifth highest score in the state; and freshman Wyatt Carswell. The team may have the opportunity to compete in the first-ever national FFA aquaculture event if the contest is slated as a national contest in October at the National FFA Convention.
The middle school team consisted of three sixth graders and a seventh grader. The sixth graders are Amanda Robinson, Grace Cowart and Shearee Cooper. Terra Dunn was the seventh grade contestant. Cowart, Robinson and Dunn all placed in the top five individually.
These two championship teams give Cedar Key four state championships in FFA this school year(Forestry, OH Demo, also).
Voyles was ecstatic about sweeping the aquaculture event, saying, “This is an amazing feat for any school, but even sweeter since we are the smallest public school in the state and compete against all sizes of schools. I am super proud to be their advisor.”
The Florida FFA Association is comprised of well over 300 FFA chapters and over 17,000 members. Congratulations to the Cedar key FFA.
Both teams will receive their team and individual trophies at the Parade of Champions during the FFA State Convention in June in Orlando.