FFA places first in food science, four in top ten

Julianna Poe, Trending Editor

Kicking off their first competition of the season, the Manhattan High FFA Chapter placed first as a team in food science with four individuals placing in the top 10.

“We’re obviously ecstatic,” senior Chanae Parker, chapter president, said. “It’s not like we went into this thing [thinking] we have to be first. We just wanted to do the best that we could.”

Nearly a year has passed since FFA participated in a contest; their last one was in late February of 2020, in which the team placed second. This year, competitions will look a little bit different, especially those in a remote setting. According to senior Tessare Harris, chapter vice president, materials for last Wednesday’s contest arrived by mail and participants utilized Scantron to turn in completed sections within a 48-hour window. Instead of a Zoom session, chapter sponsors — Elissa Mullinix for MHS — proctored testing after school.

“I feel like [the competition] was pretty interesting just because it was remote,” Harris said.

Students competed in math practicum, aroma testing, written test, consumer inquiries and a triangle test, in which you identify the different food item between three options. According to sophomore Benton Kerr, out of the five areas of interest, his favorite is the triangle test.

“For one of the sections we have to sample … three pieces of food and then tell which one is different,” Kerr said, “like which one is low fat or no calories … just by taste or feel. Then at the end we just got to eat the rest, so that was kind of cool.”

On top of a first place win out of 17 teams, four out of six Manhattan High competitors placed in the top 10. Kerr took the lead with a first place finish of 171 out of 102 total participants.

“That was really surprising because some of the other people on our … have been doing it for three years,” Kerr said. “This is my first year doing it, so I didn’t feel as prepared as they were.”

Not far from Kerr, Harris placed third with 163, Parker tied for sixth with 157 and senior Rynae Stipe took ninth with 156. Senior Nissa Olsen closed in with 13th and 147 and sophomore Connor Andresen claimed 30th with a 130. 

“I’m really excited,” Parker said. “That’s not something I expected either … It’s really nice to know that I was able to still succeed, especially since … we weren’t able to [compete] for a really long time because of COVID.”

While hosting in-person competitions are ideal, certain virtual aspects such as scanning documents could be implemented in the years to come. According to Kerr, keeping the option for virtual participation would allow for long-distance teams easier means to compete.

“I kind of like the virtual [option because] if your team can’t make it, having a virtual option in the future would still be a good idea,” Kerr said.

Today, FFA will be participating in a job interview event. Participants turned in their applications, resumes and cover letters ahead of time and will next present a mock interview.

“I know that we’re all very, very excited for it,” Parker said. “It’s something that we haven’t ever really done as a chapter before, as far as I know, so it’s something totally new and it’s going to be great.”