Approximately 9,000 FFA members from across the state will converge on the campus of Tarleton State University on Thursday to participate in the annual FFA Invitational Career Development Event (CDE) Judging Contest.

This year marks the 42nd year Tarleton’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will host the statewide FFA invitational contest, said Dr. Ted Ford, associate professor of agricultural and consumer sciences and organizer of the event. Joining the more than 9,000 FFA members will be approximately 700 ag science teachers, representing 400-plus high schools from all corners of Texas.

Several hundred Tarleton students will serve as group leaders and contest mentors, said Ford. Contests will take place on the Tarleton campus, as well as the university’s Agricultural Center, Horticulture Center, Hunewell Ranch, the Southwest Regional Dairy Center, Lone Star Arena and Stephenville City Park. The invitational serves as a practice round and allows students to prepare for team judging in a variety of categories.

The event offers FFA members 17 contests in which they can compete including: livestock, poultry, meats, wool, entomology, land, range, wildlife and recreation management, homesite evaluation, nursery/landscape, dairy cattle, horse, milk quality and products, farm business management, vet science, floriculture, and environmental and natural resources.

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 and other prizes. Several $1,000 scholarships will also be presented, along with a $2,000 sweepstakes agricultural scholarship.

“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 9 for the Area FFA contest, and on April 24 when Tarleton hosts the State FFA contests for dairy cattle, environmental and natural resources, homesite evaluation, land, milk quality and products and range.