Penn Manor FFA students bring home gold in national competition

   Penn Manor High School FFA students competed nationally last week and brought home the gold!

The Manor FFA poultry team of Sammy Bleacher, Katey Bleacher, Emily Witmer and Chad Goshert placed 12th in the nation in the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Ky., earning a gold award. Chad received an individual silver, and the other team members each earned gold awards.

In addition, Penn Manor’s FFA agronomy team of Jesse Burkholder, Katie Hess, Kayla Major and Aaron Breneman earned a silver award by placing 15th in the nation at the convention, held Oct. 30 through Nov. 2. Jesse received a gold individual award, and the other team members each earned silvers.

The Manor FFA chapter also was recognized on the main stage as a three-star chapter, the highest rating.  The award is based on the the chapter’s programs and student participation.

During the agronomy event, the Penn Manor students had to plan a crop management program, create a budget for it, and present the plan to a panel of judges.  The individual practicums included plant, seed and insect identification, grading of wheat and barley, evaluation of forages, vegetables and soils and a written test.

The poultry event included a team activity in which students had to solve a poultry hatchery management problem. Each member also had to complete a written test, evaluate live hens for past egg production, evaluate live broilers for meat production, grade eggs on interior and exterior characteristics, grade chicken carcasses, identify cuts of meat and evaluate poultry products.

Agold medal was the poultry team’s goal from its first practice back in February, said Neil Fellenbaum, Penn Manor High School agronomy teacher and FFA advisor.

“I think this speaks to the determination of this group. They set a goal, and then they gave what they had to achieve it,” he said. “The best part was the look on their faces when they knew they had accomplished their goal.”

The agronomy team was in competition for a grueling 12 hours, Fellenbaum said.

“This team of seniors went in with a positive attitude and a lot of heart and ended up exceeding their own expectations,” he said. “This contest taught them that if you put your mind to something – even though it seems like the odds are against you – you can succeed.”

Also at the national convention, 2010 Penn Manor graduate Brian Groff received his American FFA Degree, the highest achievable in the organization. The award is based on supervised agriculture experience projects and FFA involvement.

In the photos, the poultry team members are (l-r) Chad Goshert, Sammy Bleacher, Katie Bleacher and Emily Witmer. Agronomy team members are (l-r): Jesse Burkholder, Kayla Major, Katie Hess and Aaron Breneman