This year during the Indiana FFA State Convention, I gladly volunteered to be a judge for the leadership development events. I have served as a judge several times over the years, usually being one of the judges in the creed speaking contest or the extemporaneous public speaking contest.

However, this year I was a little surprised when I opened the email containing the judge’s assignment and didn’t see my name next to either of those contests.

Instead, I found my name next to the other five individuals that were assigned as judges for the horticultural and landscape management contest.

Although I was involved in soils judging and soil conservation growing up and helped agricultural students grow hundreds of plants when I was an agriculture teacher at Franklin for the Franklin FFA Chapter’s greenhouse, I am no expert when it comes to horticulture or landscape management.

If we are being completely honest, I was a bit nervous about switching to judging a contest that was a bit outside of my comfort zone.

However, I knew the Indiana FFA state staff really needed judges that have experience in the agriculture industry for all the leadership development events that take place the Tuesday of the Indiana FFA State Convention and even if I didn’t have the greenest of thumbs I knew I was up to the challenge.

Turns out, being assigned as a judge for the horticultural and landscape management contest was a good thing.

Not only do I now know how to make my own corsage, I also learned that there are some extremely talented Hoosier FFA members that one day might make a major impact on not just Indiana’s horticulture industry, but also the country’s.

One of the FFA chapters competing in the contest not only delivered almost a completely flawless and riveting demonstration, they also proposed a very real and inexpensive way to help eliminate food deserts, which are urban areas where affordable, fresh foods are not available.

After judging the contest this year and having a great time doing it, I think next year when I fill out the form for judging FFA leadership contests at the 91st Indiana FFA State Convention, I will check yes that I’m willing to judge the horticultural and landscape management contest.

Ashley Langreck can be reached at 800-426-9438, ext. 192, or alangreck@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Langreck.

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