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! This provides more detail. Which gives you more points. It also allows the judges to feel like the project is real. 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 over 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 sure do tell the story. Start in the summer taking pictures. This gives you a wide variety of activities, 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. EXTRA PAGE - This page needs to be something that adds to the application.For example: an 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.
7. THE LOOK - Be sure that you take the extra time to print the applications in color and have them in a folder. Not a 3 ring binder but a three pronged folder. If you don't have a National FFA Application binder that is alright. Stop by Walmart on your way to the office and pick up one they have some that are very similar.