Close to 1,200 students from across the state descended upon the Merced College campus for the 50th regional Future Farmers of America Field Day on Saturday, March 17.

Students from Northern California’s various high schools compete against one another nearly every weekend, showcasing their skills ranging from agriculture mechanics to job interviews. The stakes were raised this particular weekend, however, as over 100 teams squared off in an attempt to qualify for the state competition. While students participated in team events in many categories, individual awards were also presented to those with the best personal scores.

Teams from more than 20 schools came together for a full day of competition with the morning kicking off at 8 a.m. and awards being presented at 4 p.m. The competition consisted of 10 major events that were scattered across the College’s campus. The competition was so well attended that the award ceremonies were spilt between Don Reid Court and the Lesher building.

“It’s a good source of healthy competition.” said Golden Valley High student and long-time FFA participant Josh Huepel.  “You meet different people where there’s a really strong outlook on careers into the future.”

The students who attended gained experience in the workforce as well as opportunities for Agriculture-related scholarships. The 10-event program tests a student’s skills across various platforms, but contestant Shelby Stillman says one person doesn’t have to do it all.

“You pick how involved you want to be.” Stillman said, “You find people with the same interests and build relationships beyond these single-weekend competitions.”

-- Contributed by Alessandria Pedretti