Madisonville North Hopkins High School’s FFA program received multiple awards and distinctions at the Kentucky State Virtual Convention held earlier this month.

Students received approximately $2,000 in total of monetary prizes, and Madisonville North placed first in the state in the premier chapter category, building communities, for the first time.

“It was a cool experience in general,” said Brian Welch, the agriculture teacher at Madisonville.

The convention was held from June 29 to July 3 in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each student delivered their presentations virtually for a panel of state judges and later streamed the award ceremony online at home with their families.

According to Welch, the virtual format gave many family members the opportunity to watch the ceremony for the first time.

Graduated senior Karis Littlepage placed first in the state for her supervised agricultural experience project, which tested parasite resistance in dairy cattle. She also placed third in the state for the extemporaneous public speaking contest where she had to write a five to seven minute impromptu speech over a randomly selected issue in agriculture. In addition, she received a State FFA Degree for completing multiple years in agriculture education.

Elissa Forbes, who also graduated this year, placed third in the state for her supervised agricultural experience project where she conducted a variety of horticulture based experiments throughout her time in high school. She also received a State FFA Degree for completing multiple years in agriculture education.

Other students also received numerous distinctions, including Graduated Seniors Tatyana Slaton and Shamiea Fowler, who each received State FFA Degrees for completing multiple years in agriculture education. Madisonville North’s FFA chapter received a gold state rating for a fourth year in a row based on various events and projects they conducted during the school year. The FFA program also ranked in the top 10% of all Kentucky FFA Chapters.

The biggest surprise of the ceremony was Madisonville North FFA placing first in a premier chapter category, Welch said.

Each chapter is ranked in the three categories: growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture. For the first time in the chapter’s history, Madisonville North placed first in the building communities category.

Some community events that Madisonville North FFA hosted this year were a car wash for first responders and pet grooming at the Hopkins County Humane Society. According to Welch, these activities allowed FFA members to get involved while giving back to their community.

Though members of the FFA program were separated in their own homes for the ceremony, the celebration was shared just as enthusiastically as if they were all together, Welch said.

“There was a lot of cheering in my house,” Welch said. “I have a pup who was super confused about what was going on.”

Students texted back and forth with one another and Welch, sharing congratulatory responses.

Welch attributed Madisonville North’s success to their several community partners and students who participated this year, and he anticipates having another successful turnout for next year.

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