Frenship FFA students bring back third national title
Three teams of Frenship High School FFA students attended the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, and one team brought back its third national title.
Bailey Brashears and Blake Conners, seniors at Frenship High School, have earned their third national championship in agriscience at the FFA Convention.
Frenship also sent a team to the livestock judging competition after winning the state competition in the spring for the first time ever. And another agriscience project from Paden Ortega placed sixth in the national competition.
Brashears said winning a third time was “icing on the cake.” She and Blake are already planning a fourth agriscience experiment, but each year they have had to compete in a different division because of a rule that prevents teams from competing again in an event they have already won.
In previous years, Bailey and Blake have experimented on meat and the bacteria on it. This year, they expanded that experiment, using lactic acid bacteria, such as that used to make yogurt.
“We tested whether it would kill E. coli and salmonella in soil, manure and ground beef,” Bailey said.
The hides of cattle can get contaminated with bacteria in a feed lot, so Bailey said treating even the ground and manure can help reduce bacteria that goes on to the end consumer.
Spraying the pens of up to 100 cattle could cost as little as five cents per treatment, Bailey said.
“We found that it was effective,” Bailey said. The two FHS students already plan to do another test on the lactic acid bacteria next year to see if it would be effective outside of a controlled laboratory scenario.
Texas Tech, where Bailey and Blake performed their research, has filed an invention disclosure and may apply for a patent on the process in the future, Bailey said.
“This wasn’t something that had been looked at before,” she said.
It’s not the first time the duo’s work has seen success beyond just winning the top prize at the National FFA Convention. Results from past experiments on ground beef have already been published nationally and implemented in processing plants in Texas and Nebraska.
Ortega also competed at the National FFA Convention in a study on society and what it thinks of agriculture. Specifically, he looked at what people perceive to be sustainable agriculture versus what is proven to be sustainable.
Competing was stressful, he said.
“I was just very nervous about presenting in front of the judges,” he said.
Nonetheless, he said he will be trying again next year.
Members of the Frenship judging team said competing at nationals was “super-awesome,” said team member Bailee Wright.
Jordan Smith said being at the convention was exciting because there were so many tens of thousands of people there who shared the same interests in agriculture.
Team members evaluate livestock for muscling and breeding, Bailee said.
“It all goes back to the meat and what we consume,” she said.
Taylor Stockton said competing at nationals was more difficult because they were required to give reasons for their judging decisions. Because Texas is so big and has so many agriculture students competing in livestock judging, he said it is the only state which does not require students to give reasons for their decisions.
Bailee said the students practiced giving reasons before heading to nationals. Sometimes practice was just a matter of pulling over when they saw livestock near a fence as they traveled to various competitions and judging roadside cows for each other.
“We practiced. We did the best we could,” Bailee said.
The team finished 16th of 46 teams at the National FFA Convention.
Competing in national competition was “a great accomplishment,” according to FFA advisor Will Edwards.
“The kids, just to win state in a lot of these contests, there’s over 900 teams to start with,” Edwards said. “Just to be there was an honor.”
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