YORK -- Four members of the York Comprehensive High School's Future Farmers of America Club proved to be pretty good at ranking dairy cattle at the state FFA Dairy Animal Evaluation Competition held recently in Clemson, taking home second place in the statewide contest.
Held March 6 at Clemson University, the team of seniors Kelly Howell, Mason Blair and Holly Canipe and sophomore Samantha Adkins, received runner-up honors, and Canipe also recorded the second highest individual score of the competition, according to coach Frank Sandifer.
"They were hard workers," Sandifer said. "They put a lot of work into it."
Two of the team members came to the club with dairy cow experience already under their belt, either living on a dairy farm or having raised dairy cows in the past. The other two members had previous experience with beef cattle, he said.
During the competition the team members had to rank five groups of four cows, or classes, Sandifer said. For two of the classes, they had to tell the judges why they ranked each cow 1-4 in the group. They were also given written tests to gauge their dairy farming knowledge.
The York club has a reputation for excellence in FFA circles.
"We're usually in the top five in the state," Sandifer said. "Last year we placed third, and we've been first before."
FFA is an intercurricular club, which means it coincides with state curriculum standards and allows students opportunities to apply what they learn in agriculture classes and compete against other agriculture students across the state.
The club has approximately 90 members in York. Statewide 5,000-6,000 students are members, and nationally there are more than 500,000 members. FFA was created in 1928, and Sandifer said, it wasn't long afterwards that the York club was started.
Club members will have an opportunity to compete in at least three more FFA events before the end of the school year. Members will return to Clemson on Saturday, April 4 for the Livestock Competition, which focuses on beef cattle, hogs and sheep. Then on Saturday, April 18, members will travel to the state fair grounds in Columbia for the Dairy Foods Competition. The Agricultural Mechanics Competition, which focuses on farming equipment, will be held on Saturday, May 9, though the site of the competition has yet to be announced, Sandifer said.
He is hoping the club will remain strong in the years to come.
"I hope next year will be good too," he said. "I'm hoping to have some young ones come along and take (the seniors') places."
Students must be enrolled in an agriculture class at the Applied Technology Center in the Natural Resources Career Cluster to join. Ninth grade York Junior High School students enrolled in agriculture classes are eligible as well.