Another successful season for the Bullard Future Farmers of America Leadership Development Events teams has now come and gone, but not before representing the organization at the State level and bringing home a State competition banner.
“This was kind of a rebuilding year for our FFA LDE teams,” said Monty Main, Bullard FFA advisor. “We had lost a lot of good seniors last year, and so we had to find more good kids to replace them. Expectations were high because we always set the bar high; we believe in the old saying ‘go big or go home.’ Our teams had a limited amount of time to practice this year because of how the calendar fell with the National FFA Convention; we had several students attend to pick up our National Chapter award at the convention, so we really didn’t get to start practicing until the beginning of November, with only about two full weeks to train these kids until our first contest.
The first large competition for the Bullard FFA LDE teams was the Mineola District Contest, held Thursday, Nov. 9, at Cross Brand Cowboy Church in Tyler.
At the Mineola District Contest, The Bullard FFA LDE teams were able to team together to allow the organization to finish tied for second place in the Sweepstakes overall competition, falling shy of first place by less than five points.
The Broadcast and Radio team, consisting of Lillian Bloxom, Raelee Walker, and Peyton Moore, was able to beat out the competition, finishing in first place and advancing to Area.
Also advancing to Area with a first place finish at the District contest was the Agricultural Issues Forum team, made up of Hunter Low, Mallory Hatcher, Peyton Moore, Weston McCullough, Lillian Bloxom, Sydney Morris, and Karlie Lowe.
The Bullard FFA Public Relations LDE team was able to punch their ticket to the next round after taking second place at the District contest and advancing to Area. Team members on the Public Relations team include Jarrett Whatley, Marissa Self, Nicole Jones, and Taylor Barber.
A second place finish was also awarded to the Agricultural Advocacy LDE team from Bullard FFA, consisting of Taye McCurley, Alli Shelton, Livi Abercrombie, and Sydney Ellen Bass. With their high finish, the team advanced to Area.
Taking home a third place finish at the District contest and the opportunity to advance to the Area contest was the Senior Farm Skills team, made up of Nicole Jones, Kenzie Colston, Hannah Sieben, and Raelee Walker.
The Bullard FFA Greenhand Farm Skills team, consisting of Colton Long, Abby Grimes, Sydney Crowder, and Nick Kraemer, was able to achieve a third place finish in their competition, advancing the team to the Area round.
Also receiving third place was Karlie Lowe, participating in the Greenhand Creed Speaking competition. With her strong finish, Lowe advanced to Area.
Other teams competition at the Mineola District Contest but falling short of qualifying for the Area contest included the Greenhand Chapter Conducting Team, consisting of Jordy Martin, Claire Cannon, Cooper Callaway, Sydney Davis, Molly Duncan, Riley Wood, and Landon Harris, placing fourth; Hunter Low, participating in the Senior Creed Speaking contest, receiving seventh place; the Greenhand Quiz team, made up of Drew McKeethan, Baylee Hall, Ahlexcis Lackey, and Aiden Pate, placing 10th; and the Senior Quiz team, consisting of Dalton Russell, Esau Powell, Gavin Watson, and Audrey Adams.
The following contest for teams advancing out the Mineola District Contest was the Area VI LDE Competition, held Wednesday, Nov. 15, at Texas State Technical College in Marshall.
“The Area contest is unique, in that Area VI goes basically from Denton over towards East Texas and up to Texarkana,” said Main. “Within that Area, we compete against each other, unlike in UIL competitions, where teams compete against other teams in their conferences that feature roughly the same size schools and teams. We have to compete against teams from 1A to 6A, and sometimes, it the smaller schools that come out on top of the bigger schools in our contests.”
The top team finish at the Area VI contest was achieved by the Bullard FFA Broadcast Radio team, taking home first place and advancing to the State LDE contest.
Also qualifying for the State LDE contest from Bullard FFA was the Agricultural Issues Forum team, as they were able to take home a second place silver finish in their contest.
Finishing in third place with the bronze in their category but falling just short of advancing to State was the Public Relations LDE team.
Other finishes from Bullard FFA LDE teams at the Area VI LDE Competition included the Agricultural Advocacy team, placing fourth; Greenhand Farm Skills team, finishing fifth; Karlie Lowe in the Greenhand Creed Speaking contest, placing sixth; and the Senior Farm Skills team, finishing seventh.
At the State LDE contest, held Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1-2, on the campus of Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Bullard FFA ended its LDE competition season with a strong showing.
The Bullard FFA Broadcast Radio team was able to push their way out of their heat with a fifth place performance, advancing their way to the competition’s final round the following day.
In the final round, the Broadcast Radio team was awarded the State Reserve Grand Champion banner, having placed second overall out of 644 teams across Texas.
“It’s great to be named Reserve Grand Champions,” said Main. “As we always say, success breeds success. This level of success helps to build up a program. At the contest, we drew a nice sized crowd when our girls went to present; it was just packed and the people wanted to hear our script and what they were going to talk about. That’s just a testament to the hard work these girls have put in to achieve this level of success.”
Bullard FFA advisor Charlotte Main shared her thoughts on the team through a Facebook post in which she praised the team for its hard work and determination throughout the competition season.
“This Radio team started its journey last year, made it to state only to have a team member get sick the morning of contest,” said Charlotte Main, in her Facebook post. “They battled through it and still managed to break the top ten. Fast-forward a year and change one of the faces and the script, and we landed right back in the finals. Raelee, Peyton, and Lillian all told me they wanted to finish better than last year and would love to finish in the top five. Landing in second place out of 644 teams met this goal.”
The other team representing Bullard FFA at the State LDE contest was the Agricultural Issues Forum, performing well and placing ninth overall in their heat, finishing in the top 10 of the State out of 180 teams.
“The Agricultural Issues Forum team does a lot of work in preparing for these LDE contests,” said Monty Main. “They do a lot of research into a topic or area of interest that has either has a positive or negative effect on the world of agriculture, and they discuss it deeply.”
When looking back retrospectively, Main said the season was a success for Bullard FFA, allowing the organization to bring home a second place banner from the State LDE contest for the second consecutive year.
“All in all, it was a short but successful LDE season for Bullard FFA,” said Main. “Any time you can bring home a State banner means you had a great year. To put our year in prospective, there was a 44-year Ag teaching veteran, who actually was the first female Ag teacher in the State of Texas, who was at the State competition, and she just qualified her first team to State this year. I’m proud of the body of work these kids have put in. Our job as teachers is to equip them with the right tools to help them reach success.”
Up next on the schedule for the Bullard FFA program will be the popular annual Bullard FFA Labor and Merchandise auction, to be held Saturday, Jan. 27, inside the Bullard Elementary School Cafeteria.
The event will feature a free BBQ dinner beginning at 5:30 p.m., with the live and silent auctions following immediately afterwards.
“Every year, we raise the bar on how much we raise at our labor and Merchandise Auction,” said Main. “It’s all attributed to the blessing and support of the people that believe in this program and what we’ve been able to do for these kids. We’ve always been blessed with a large presence from people in the Bullard community who come out to take care of these kids. We’ll start working to build some of the larger auction items as we get back from Christmas break, but we’re very excited about the auction and look forward to its success.”