The Pine Grove FFA Meats Evaluation Team from Valley High School is currently competing on the national level in Indianapolis, Ind.
The team, consisting of Ruby Morris, Samantha Thomas, J.D. Morris, and Sophia Adams, won the right to attend the national competition when they took the first place team award at the state contest Sept. 25-27.
The team won by a mere 13 points over the other 16 teams at the state meet. To put the point system in perspective, the team earned 1,426 points out of a possible 1,752.
Pictured from left are J.D. Morris, Samantha Thomas, Ruby Morris, and Sophia Adams, members of the Pine Grove FFA Meats Evaluation Team from Valley High School that is currently competing on the national level in Indianapolis, Ind. At right is their advisor, Annie Hall.
The team's points are calculated by adding together the top three individual's points. Ruby Morris was the top individual in the state. Thomas was third, J.D. Morris placed eighth, and Adams garnered 10th place. For all of their team members to be in the top 10 individuals in the state is quite an honor.
But the team didn't rest on their laurels. In the month since that victory they have been working even harder to learn all they can about meats evaluation. They practiced during lunch, after school, and during school. They have taken trips with their advisor, Annie Hall, to Witschey's and Wal-Mart to view the various cuts of meat offered there and learn more. "It is better than just seeing photos," commented Hall. Retail identification is part of the testing.
Other aspects of the competition include a written test that requires a lot of memorization. They must know cooking temperatures, be able to complete meat formulation problems, calculate percentage of lean and fat in a piece of meat, pick the best product for a certain scenario, and grade meat on yield and quality. They also must figure out costs of products.
"The biggest difference between the state and national competition is that they have to know how to cook cuts of meat," said Hall. "It is very, very competitive."
She said the group's teamwork and work ethic are great. "They had to be dedicated to study," said Hall. "They are the ones who actually studied, perfected, and built that confidence that they need to perform."
"We have a good team," said Thomas. "We all get along most of the time."
The students share the admiration. Now in her second year at VHS, they say Hall has been an integral part of their success. "Miss Hall has done a lot to help us," said Sophia Adams.
The national competition is being held Oct. 24 and 25. Their trip is being paid for from FFA funds acquired through fund raisers and some alumni donations. "We don't usually ask for a lot of donations," said Hall. "We usually work to make it."