More than 7,000 high school students from across the state of Texas will travel to the Tarleton State University campus Thursday to participate in the annual FFA Invitational Career Development Event Judging Contest.

This is the 40th year Tarleton’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will host the statewide FFA invitational contest, said Dr. Ted Ford, associate professor of agricultural services and development and organizer of the event. It’s also expected that this year’s contest will set yet another attendance record, with 7,083 students pre-registered from 395 Texas high schools.

More than 400 Tarleton students will assist with the invitational, serving as group leaders and contest monitors, said Ford. Contests will take place on the Tarleton campus, as well as the Agricultural Center, Hunewell Ranch, Horticulture Center, Lone Star Arena and at Stephenville City Park. The invitational event serves as a practice round and allows students to prepare for team judging in a variety of categories.

The invitational event, which kicks off at 8:30 a.m., offers students 16 categories in which they can compete: dairy cattle, entomology, environmental and natural resources, farm business management, floriculture, homesite evaluation, horse, land, livestock, meats, milk quality and products, nursery/landscape, poultry, range, veterinary technician and wildlife.

The top 20 individuals in each of the judging categories will be recognized during a 3 p.m. awards ceremony at Wisdom Gymnasium and presented with a plaque, cap and other prizes.

“We are pleased and excited to host these events again this year. Serving as the host university for these statewide invitational Career Development Events is probably the most significant college-wide service activity sponsored annually by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences,” said Dr. Don Cawthon, dean of the college. “These events support the educational efforts of our high school agriscience teacher colleagues, offer many high school students their first opportunity to visit and spend time on a university campus, and provide our current students with experience in organizing and conducting large events.

“Though the majority of high school students attending these events will not choose a field of agriculture as their major, these activities do serve as a significant recruiting tool for our college and the university as a whole,” Cawthon added.

This is the largest of three contests that Tarleton will host this spring. The university will welcome high school students again on April 11 for the Area FFA contest, and on April 19 when Tarleton hosts the State FFA contests for dairy cattle, environmental and natural resources, homesite evaluation, land, milk quality and products, and range.

For more information on this and future FFA or 4-H events, contact Dr. Ted Ford at 254-968 9224 or email ford@tarleton.edu.