The University of Wisconsin-River Falls will host the 58th Annual Agricultural Technology Contest on Saturday, March 24. The contest includes a series of career development events hosted by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES). More than 1,000 students are expected to compete in 16 team events and three additional contest opportunities.
The event allows Wisconsin and Minnesota FFA members to showcase their knowledge by participating in a variety of contests that focus on agricultural communications; agricultural technology and mechanical systems; agronomy; dairy cattle, livestock and horse evaluation; farm business management; floriculture; food science and technology; forestry; milk quality and products; nursery/landscape; soils; veterinary science; and wildlife.
UWRF coordinates the Wisconsin FFA state contests for agricultural communications and food science and technology. First-place teams will advance to compete at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind., in October.
Seven of the events also serve as qualifying contests for the Wisconsin FFA Association Career Development Events on April 27 in Madison. These events include agricultural technology and mechanical systems, dairy evaluation, floriculture, horse evaluation, livestock evaluation, wildlife and veterinary science.
A highlight of the contest is the power tool drag race. The event changes the type of tool that students use when building their vehicle which makes the contests unique from year to year. The race encourages students to use their problem solving, creative design, research and development and engineering skills. This year, students must power their vehicle using a 120-volt corded power tool router other than an angle/side/disc grinder with the goal being to achieve the fastest time. The UWRF Agricultural Industry Club sponsors and coordinates this event.
Milk quality & products is a new contest this year. This contest will assess student ability to detect flavors and the intensity in milk samples, as well as identify cheese samples. Students will also complete a written exam that includes questions based upon general knowledge in milk production, milk marketing, safe handling of milk, dairy production history and milk product production.
Each year it takes more than one hundred volunteers to ensure successful contests. CAFES faculty and staff serve as chairs for each of the contests while CAFES students volunteer as student chairs and assist on contest day.
Alexis Stibor, an agricultural education major from Osseo, is this year’s contest coordinator. Assistant coordinators are Amber Patterson, agricultural education major from Bloomington, and Andrew Scheller, agricultural education major from Manawa. Professor Tim Buttles serves as the faculty chair for the contest and Fay Westberg of the agricultural education department assists with overall contest preparations.
CAFES enrolls approximately 1,500 undergraduate across 14 different majors. In addition to the many specialized facilities on campus such as the greenhouse and food processing plants, CAFES oversee two laboratory farms – the Campus Farm which is primarily dedicated to the equine program and the Mann Valley Farm for production agriculture. The college is home to the largest major on campus in terms of enrollment – animal science. It’s often assumed that most CAFES students come from a farm, but in reality, 53% of CAFES students do not have a farm background. In 2017, 91% of incoming freshmen in CAFES indicated UWRF was their first choice for higher education.