When you're at the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum, don't be surprised if FFA students stop to ask you a few questions about the show.
High school students, members of the Liberty High School FFA chapter in Spangle, Wash., will conduct a survey of expo attendees as part of their agricultural marketing career development event.
The students will ask what the audience wants to see for future shows, said Emma Kate Bartels, a 10th-grader and sentinel for the chapter.
"We'd like to ask why they come, how often they come," she said.
"How do they hear about the Expo?" said 10th-grader Annika Hennington. "Is it from a relative? Do they see it in advertisements?"
The marketing CDE helps students work with a business to develop a marketing skill.
Liberty FFA advisor Steve Braun said the students will share their findings with Expo officials, putting together a presentation, just as if they had been hired as a marketing firm.
"We are hopefully taking a few students, immersing them in the ag marketing world ... giving them an opportunity to learn some of the skills needed in that area," he said. "It may spark some interest for them to go into ag marketing as a lifelong career."
The skills learned in any CDE or leadership event should help prepare students for any career they may decide to pursue, he said.
The students would take their project to the state convention in Pullman in May, alongside other qualifying Washington FFA marketing CDE teams. One team from each state will compete at the national convention in October in Indianapolis.
"We'll learn just how businesses really have to do marketing," Hennington said. "That's not just something you really learn in a class in high school. You kind of have to step out of your comfort zone to be able to do that."
They'll also put their people skills to good use, approaching other attendees during the event to ask them to take a survey.
"That's a really good skill for anybody to have, especially high schoolers," she said.
Past Liberty FFA marketing teams have conducted surveys before, for smaller businesses, Bartels said.
"Definitely not on this big a scale," she said. "This is kind of a first for something this big and significant."
The students enjoy their experience at the Expo, and want to make that the other attendees are having just as much fun, they said.
Braun said the students appreciate the support of their school and administration as they participate in such activities.
"These students are looking at about five or six days out of the classroom entirely collecting data, going to meetings, putting things together," he said. "That's significant. We very much value and thank the administration and Liberty school's support of our FFA programs."
Braun hopes to have survey results by the end of February, and begin preparing the presentation for competitions in March.