Hello there Total AG ED Program South Region Agriculture Teachers!

As the National FFA Convention comes to a close the South Region was so
blessed to have four National Proficiency Finalist and two National
Proficiency WINNERS! These students worked hard with their SAEs outside of
the classroom, maintained good records and were all able to describe their
work in their project area to a panel of judges. Serving on the judge's
side this year I feel as though I have seen BOTH sides of the process and
feel the need to share with all of you, because I like ya!

YOUR STUDENTS can do this too! Here are some simple tips that hopefully you
can use to have more success with your students proficiency entries.

*Proficiency TIPS:*

1. *USE THE RUBRIC* - When the student starts his/her work hand them a hard
copy of the rubric (which is attached and can be found of the National FFA
website) The judges receive this same piece of paper to score the
applications. Try to make sure that every aspect that is being judged is in
the highest points. Please note that there are 3 rubrics -
placement/ownership, combine and research; choose the one that best fits
the type of project that the student has been working with.

2. *FILL THE BLANK SPACE* - If the space is provided USE IT! Ms. Cook made
me go back, and back AND BACK until I had the whole space full. Do you know
what that does? Provides more detail. Which gives you more points. It also
allows the judges to fill like the project is real. I always made my
students fill the spaces. It's like pulling teeth sometimes but will be
worth it in the end when they receive that $500 check to go to Nationals,
prize money on top of that from Nationals just for winning state and the GA
FFA Foundation check to your students for their hard work.

3. *DETAILS* - Tractor name, make and model, fertilizer brand, exact
measurements, numbers, number NUMBERS; these are all aspects that students
do not think about. That's where you come in to play. Read other the
application and circle places that need more detail and hand it back to the
students. The space maybe filled but not with details. Details win!

4. *PICTURES* - With the new system horizontal pictures are best. Action
shots! The student actually working is great! Avoid: hats, sunglasses, long
hair in the face and dark pictures. These pictures bring the project to
life. They are not worth a ton on the new rubric but shore do tell the
story. Start in the summer taking pictures. This gives you a wide verity of
seasons, colors, weather and* clothing*.

5. *CAPTIONS* - Do not start the captions with: *In the picture* or *I
am. *Just
avoid I all together. Try to use the space and talk about the skills being
shown in the picture. Or maybe even why what the student is doing is
important. Also fill the space!

6. *STUDENT SELECTION *- Most of the time the students that have the most
time invested in their project score better. We would only allow high
school juniors and seniors as well as college freshman to fill out a
proficiency application. This way they would be more competitive on hours,
years, and amount of inventory. These ages are usually, not always, better
at speaking to judges. You also don't want to waste a high school freshman
or sophomore's chance at winning Nationally. A high school freshman most
likely will not compete well at the National FFA Convention and then their
time and over because once you win, it is over proficiency wise in that

7. *START EARLY *- Yes I am sure there are some of you really talented
teachers out there that can have a student start on a proficiency on Monday
and have it done by Friday when it is due and win. NOT ME! We started in
the summer of the ones I knew were going to apply by taking pictures and
giving them a hard copy of a blank proficiency or emailing them access to
their application online. Then when school started we had check points
every month. This helped me to not become stressed at the end. However,
they could go ahead and begin filling the online forms out and be sitting
on ready when their time comes!

8. *EXTRA PAGE *- This page needs to be something that adds to the
application. Extra page of data collected. Reports from an experiment.
Copies of soil samples that were referred to in the application. A flier
used to drum up business for their piglets etc. In the past I have also
taken all the articles that highlighted how great the student was made them
smaller and put them all together in a collage type page.

9. *ASK FOR HELP *- We are all here to help you and your students be
successful. If you are *"not a proficiency person"* please do not let the
great opportunity pass by some of your* OUTSTANDING *students. If you allow
us to look over it EARLY (not the week of the due date) we could help you

The students in your classrooms are doing the work in agriculture that
could not be touched by the students in the other regions. Let's work
together to highlight them and their hard work! Call, text, email our South
Region Team with any questions, comments or concerns.

Thank you for what you do!

*Trisha Rae Lastly *
*South Region Agriculture Education *
*Area Horticulture Teacher *