Idaho FFA members test career skills
By Matthew Weaver
700 members on UI campus
MOSCOW, Idaho -- Roughly 700 members of the Idaho FFA are on the University of Idaho campus this week working to develop their careers.
Career Development Events (CDEs) are competitions for students. They have been working in the classroom all year round under Supervised Agricultural Experiences, said Daniel Heikkila, state vice president for Idaho FFA from Meridian, Idaho, and Pocatello, Idaho.
"This is the progress report for the year," Heikkila said of CDE state competitions.
A student might compete in such CDEs as livestock judging, dairy foods, forestry, veterinary or agronomy.
Eventually, CDEs will hopefully be applied to a career, Heikkila said, noting he's used skills from his time in a few jobs while going to school, including rewiring outlets or welding repair.
David Gutierrez and Andrew Tibbets, both seniors from Burley, Idaho, were on hand to compete in the mechanics CDE.
"These past two weeks have been nothing but practice, practice, practices," Gutierrez said. He's been in the FFA since the eighth grade, doing electrical work. Gutierrez planned to compete in electricity and tool identification.
Gutierrez said his time in FFA has helped prepare him for college and learn to be a leader.
"Any activity is a leadership training experience," he said.
This was Tibbets' first year in FFA, competing in the small engines CDE.
"From day one, I just loved it," he said. "I've just enjoyed all of the awesome people who are so down-to-earth. It has really taught me to work a lot harder and to be passionate about what I like."
Cameron Pickett, employment coordinator for Western States Equipment, one of the sponsors of the event, said he works with schools throughout the year to recruit future employees, particularly diesel technicians.
Pickett said there is a shortage of skills in the trade, and so his company partnered with FFA to develop and build its own talented employee pool.
FFA members have the work ethic and attitude the company is looking for for the people side of its business, Pickett said.
Top placers in the CDEs go onto FFA nationals, held in Louisville, Ky., beginning Oct. 30.