MARSHALL - Outside, it was a bright and sunny Saturday. But for two dozen area teens, the real action was taking place in the computer labs and classrooms at Southwest Minnesota State University. While other students did research or rehearsed in other parts of the campus, three Marshall High School students in FFA jackets waited their turn to face a panel of judges.
"We have to present a marketing plan for a product," Alaina Van Overbeke said. The product could be real or fictional, but it had to have something to do with agriculture or the food industry.
"We decided to do ours on animal nutrition," said Eli Welu, another of the team members giving the presentation.
Photo by Deb Gau
Lance Fredricks addressed a panel of judges in one of the Ag Bowl Scholarship Challenge events at SMSU. Students had to present a marketing plan for an agricultural product or program.
The presentation was part of the first Ag Bowl Scholarship Challenge Saturday at SMSU. The multi-event challenge was designed to showcase students' agricultural knowledge, teamwork and presentation skills. Individual competitors, teams and FFA advisers could all win scholarship money.
John Knochenmus, president of Ralco Nutrition, Inc., said the scholarship challenge was "a natural extension" of SMSU's Ag Bowl events.
"We wanted to bring attention to the whole industry of agriculture," Knochenmus said. "There's a lot of good jobs, and more opportunities than there have ever been in agriculture today." The scholarship challenge was a chance to both encourage young people's interest in studying agriculture and help promote ag programs at the university, he said.
A total of eight teams from five Minnesota high schools, including MHS and Tracy Area High School, competed in the scholarship challenge. Teams of three students worked together to create an agricultural marketing plan, give a presentation on ag issues and complete a communications challenge.
Marshall students said the communications challenge would probably be the hardest event, because they couldn't prepare for it in advance. Students would watch a video on an agricultural issue and then create a blog post and a brochure talking about that issue.
MHS team member Lance Fredricks said he knew he'd be doing the brochure.
"When we heard what we'd be doing, I said, 'What's a blog?'" Fredricks joked.
"So I'm doing the blog," Van Overbeke said.
Another MHS team, composed of students Spencer Van Overbeke, Cody Bernardy and Jonnie Weets, said they had been meeting after school to prepare their presentations for competition.
Weets said he was new to FFA competition, but that wasn't holding him back.
"It's fun," he said.
Students said they enjoyed getting to do a competitive ag event so early in the school year.
"It opens (FFA) up to people," Alaina Van Overbeke said.