Missouri FFA members from five chapters competed in a first-of-its-kind Swine Facility Management Contest on May 5 at the University of Missouri Research Farm in Columbia.
Organized by the National Pork Board and Missouri Pork Association, this inaugural contest gave the ag students experience in evaluating important aspects of barn management, such as biosecurity, medications, feed, record-keeping and loading safety. It’s the only such competition in the nation, but organizers hope the Missouri event will inspire expansion into other states.
“This is a pilot program to expose young people to the facility management side of swine production and show them potential careers in the pork industry,” said Rob Christine, National Pork Board regional director. “We hope to take this contest to a national level. We have several other states that have expressed interest in how it goes.”
The Swine Facility Management Contest is based on the principles that ensure producers are raising pigs in a safe environment. Students completed a 40-question written exam, then moved through six stages in and around the MU Swine Research facility to evaluate procedures. Representatives from Smithfield and JBS, two of the nation’s leading meat-processing companies and potential employers, helped lead the teams.
“What I like about this contest is that it’s hands-on,” said Don Nikodim, executive director of the Missouri Pork Association, adding that plans are already underway for next year’s event. “These kids are getting exposed to the things they’d actually do working on a pig farm. Our industry depends on young people coming in, and they don’t necessarily have to own the farm. There are a lot of good job opportunities outside of ownership.”
First place in the contest went to Schuyler FFA team members Jarrett Groseclose, MaKinley Aeschliman, Ashlyn Laws and Kaycee Hart. North Shelby FFA placed second with team members Landon Bender, Brayton Cook, Jade Daniel and Dylan McEwen. The California FFA Chapter received third place, with team members Collin Althoff, Gavin Porter, Chase Schlup and Dillon Wood.
Other participating teams were from New Bloomfield FFA and St. James FFA.
The contest also recognized the top five individuals in the contest. First place went to Jarrett Groseclose with Schuyler FFA. Dylan McEwen of North Shelby received second, and Chase Schlup with California FFA received third. In fourth place was Dillon Wood of California FFA. Fifth place went to Ashlyn Laws with Schuyler FFA.
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