By April C. Honaker
Next month, the 2021 winners of Louisiana’s Forestry Career Development Event (CDE) will travel to Indianapolis, Ind., home of the National FFA Organization, to compete in a national Forestry CDE. The winning team hails from Ruston High School and includes Caleb Granger, Raymond Granger, Kassidy Kelley and Dylan Trevillion.
At the national competition October 22-26, Carter Gay will replace Caleb Granger who graduated from Ruston High in May 2021 and is now studying engineering at Louisiana Tech. To compete at the national level, Ruston High’s forestry team won preliminary competitions at the district, area and state level to qualify.
Landon Wade, who is now teaching in Choudrant, coached Ruston’s team to success last year.
Replacing Wade, Antonio Wilson said the team has continued to prepare since their wins last year. According to Wilson, the state FFA association has set up contests to keep the team refreshed in their knowledge and to ensure they do well.
Regarding the team’s success and national opportunity, Wilson said, “It’s a pretty big deal for Ruston High and Louisiana as a whole. For them to do well helps out the entire state and the school.”
As its name suggests, the Forestry CDE is designed to help students develop skills relevant to careers in forestry or natural resources. Students learn about diagnosing forest problems, managing forests and applying silviculture.
Wilson said that in preparation for the state competition the students learned to identify 46 species of trees and 40 forestry equipment items, as well as how to determine the value of a tree, how to use a compass, and how to estimate distance by pacing.
At the national level, everything changes. The team must expand their knowledge and be prepared to participate on an individual and team level. Prior to traveling to Indianapolis, each member of the team will take a written test. The scores on the test will impact their standing in the competition.
In Indianapolis, they will have other opportunities to demonstrate their skills and competencies and will also participate in a group activity in which they use their knowledge and skills to solve an industry problem.
According to Wilson, the team is looking forward to this opportunity, and it would not be possible for them to travel to Indianapolis if it were not for a sponsorship from Tractor Supply of Ruston. Wilson said the team is extremely grateful for the sponsorship and continues to seek additional sponsorships to ease the financial burden of the trip. Those interested in supporting the forestry team, are encouraged to contact Ruston High School at 318-255-0807.
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