By MATTHEW WEAVER
MOSCOW, Idaho -- About 700 Idaho FFA members are on the University of Idaho campus this week for career development event competitions.
They have been working in the classroom all year, said Daniel Heikkila, state vice president for Idaho FFA.
"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 the skills he's learned, including rewiring outlets or welding.
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, practice," 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 to recruit future employees, particularly diesel technicians.
Pickett said there is a shortage of workers in the trade, so his company partnered with FFA to develop and build its own employee pool.
FFA members have the work ethic and attitude the company is looking for, Pickett said.
Top placers in the CDEs go on to FFA nationals, held in Louisville, Ky., beginning Oct. 30.