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North Harford High FFA members place 23rd in national competition

The North Harford High School FFA Chapter recently sent members to Indianapolis to vie for national honors in the area of nursery/landscape, competing against over 160 other FFA members from around the country. The team placed 23rd in the nation to earn a silver award. Pictured, from left, are advisor Erika Edwards, FFA team members Megan Thomas, Shanyn Wolfe, Nicole DeAtley and Kaylin Bordenski and representatives from Stihl, which sponsored Nursery Lanscape CDE.
The North Harford High School FFA Chapter recently sent members to Indianapolis to vie for national honors in the area of nursery/landscape, competing against over 160 other FFA members from around the country. The team placed 23rd in the nation to earn a silver award. Pictured, from left, are advisor Erika Edwards, FFA team members Megan Thomas, Shanyn Wolfe, Nicole DeAtley and Kaylin Bordenski and representatives from Stihl, which sponsored Nursery Lanscape CDE.

The North Harford FFA chapter from North Harford High School placed 23rd - earning a silver award - in the 92nd National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.

The North Harford members competed in the event, sponsored by Kubota Tractor Corporation and STIHL Inc., for national honors in the area of nursery/landscape against more than 160 other FFA members from around the country.

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FFA members who represented the chapter include Kaylin Bordenski (bronze award), Nicole DeAtley (silver award), Megan Thomas (gold award) and Shanyn Wolfe (silver award). Erika Edwards is the chapter advisor and coach, with help from coach Joyce Browning (UMD Extension).

Nursery/landscape is one of 25 career/leadership development event areas, covering jobs skills in everything from communications to mechanics.

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The nursery and landscape event tests participants by having them identify plant specimens according to their technical and common names, select nursery plant material and take a multiple-choice exam.

The FFA members also perform hands-on activities that range from landscape estimating to interpersonal relations to nursery operation practices.

CDEs and LDEs help students develop the abilities to think critically, communicate clearly and perform effectively in a competitive job market.

The North Harford FFA annually competes in many other CDEs and LDEs state-wide. This is the fourth consecutive year the team has represented Maryland in the nursery/landscape CDE.

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“The Nursery/Landscape CDE opened my eyes to a whole new side of agriculture. I had always focused more on animals and thought plants were boring if I’m being honest, but after competing in this CDE I found that I actually really enjoy it," Wolfe said.

She now takes plant classes at school and has passed the identification portion of the Certified Professional Horticulturist Exam and is on her way to passing the entire exam in the spring.

The CDE also helped Thomas become a Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturalist.

“While at the National FFA Convention, I learned more about nursery and landscape management, but also more about FFA members and agriculture from around the country,” Thomas, who made history as the first for her chapter to earn gold in the event, said.

North Harford alumnus Jasmine Coates will also be receiving honors as she accepts the American FFA Degree, the highest degree someone can achieve in the National FFA Organization.

Not only does it take hard work, but it also takes time, Edwards said.

Members work their way up from the bronze charm of the Greenhand Degree, to the silver Chapter Degree, to the golden State Degree and those who go above and beyond strive for the golden key of the American Degree. The award is equivalent to the Eagle Scout.

“To reach the requirements and earn my American Degree I put in over five years’ worth of work in the FFA, serving as both a chapter and state officer," Coates said. "During that time, I completed multiple Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs) which produced my own income, participated in over 50 hours of community service projects and was enrolled in the Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Magnet Program at North Harford.”

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 669,989 student members who belong to one of 8,630 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 459,514 alumni members in 2,236 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.

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