UK Future Farmers of America hosts annual Field Day


Abbey Cutrer

People participate in Field Day on Thursday, April 20, 2023, on the South Campus of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Courtney Suber | Staff

Courtney Suber, Reporter

The UK College of Agriculture at and UK Future Farmers of America (FFA) held their 53rd annual FFA/4-H Field Day on Thursday, April 20 at Kroger Field.

The event invited middle and high school Future Farmers of America (FFA) and 4-H chapters from all over Kentucky to compete in games and events related to agriculture. 

The events were held across campus ranging from Kroger Field to the Arboretum to buildings at the College of Agriculture.

In the spring of 1970, FFA and 4-H chapters from the Bluegrass region and surrounding counties met to compete in a variety of agriculture-focused competitions.

The event allowed students to form relationships with students and professors at UK who work in different fields of agriculture. 

The event grew exponentially with time, and in 2016 saw over 2,000 students from Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.

This year over 2,700 students from Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia attended. The participants from Kentucky represented 83 different schools.

The events were judged and scored by UK students, many being in “Advising a Career and Technical Student Organization” (ADD 371) taught by Dexter Knight, a part-time instructor in Community and Leadership Development in agricultural education.

Nearly 300 students volunteered and assisted in running the event and completing tasks.

“They were the ones putting on the events, they were the ones on the microphone, they were the ones in the back grading right now,” Stacy Vincent, the Chair of the Field Day Committee and a professor of Agricultural Education at the College of Agricultural Food and Environment said. 

Madyson Planck, a sophomore at UK majoring in agricultural education, was in charge of the farm business management competition. 

“The farm business management is just an exam I give out to students, and there are teams of four and they just take a multiple choice exam that is based on farm business principles and things like that,” Planck said. 

Abigail Daniel, a sophomore at UK studying agricultural education, was in charge of “Serving out Loud”, which is a community service competition. 

“They [the students] have a community service project that they have already presented to their community or they have one that’s been presented before. They’ll come and tell us about it and present everything as if they were presenting the community service to a board,” Daniel said. 

They also developed ways in which they would pick a winner for their competitions.

“They will get judged on how that helps their community and how well it is and how successful it is,” Daniel said. 

The students also planned tabling for the event. UK Housing, Minorities in Agriculture, UK admissions and more were promoted during the field day.

Alongside student volunteers, staff and faculty also had a hand in helping the event function.

“You’re problem solving at this point, the field day’s gonna happen. [We] try to help make it operate and carry it out as smoothly as possible,” Knight said.

UK Field Day aimed to encompass all fields within The College of Agriculture.

“This was a family event, this was a College of Ag family event,” Vincent said. “Our students, faculty, and staff put on about nearly 30 different events that stretched across our disciplines from veterinary medicine to ag engineering.”

The field day had the following events and competitions:

  • Agriscience Fair
  • Agronomy
  • Auctioneering
  • Citizenship Bowl
  • Dairy Evaluation 
  • Demonstrations 
  • Farm Business Management 
  • FFA Quiz Bowl
  • Floriculture 
  • Forestry Evaluation 
  • Horse Industry Knowledge
  • Job Interviews
  • Land and Soil Evaluation
  • LifeSmarts
  • Livestock Evaluation
  • Meats Evaluation
  • Nursery Evaluation 
  • Seed Identification
  • Serving Out Loud
  • Tractor Driving
  • Veterinary Medicine 
  • Welding

Students piled into the seating provided to listen to the opening of the event.

Audrey Hall, a junior at Greenup County High School, competed in dairy judging.

According to the UK College of Agriculture Food and Environment, judging dairy cattle entails the physical attributions of the cow, such as strength, frame, udder, and rear feet and legs. 

“A lot of it is mostly just in the udder of the cow, but with the young ones you wanna look for their bone structure,” Hall said. 

Sarah Wells and Eme Tucker, sophomores at Bourbon County High School, competed in the agricultural science fair. 

According to the UK College of Agriculture Food and Environment website, the agriscience fair required students to incorporate the use of an abstract, a safety sheet, a research paper, and more into their projects. Each student had to explain their findings to a panel of judges. 

“You’re trying to take a study of something and either see if it works or doesn’t work. There’s no wrong or right answer, you’re just trying to see if it’ll work,” Tucker said. 

There was also a livestock judging event held in between the Barnhart Building and the Plant Sciences Building. 

People participate in Field Day on Thursday, April 20, 2023, on the South Campus of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Courtney Suber | Staff

During this event, participants were required to judge livestock using a scoresheet. Each animal was numbered, and participants were required to select the animal which was the most healthy. 

Participants were separated into two groups where they judged either sheep or cows. They then surrounded the pins and were instructed by student and staff volunteers to fill out their score sheet and, once finished, step away from the pins.

Once this was complete, they were given ten minutes to fill out a questionnaire on how they determined which animal was the most healthy.

Next to the Gluck Equine Building, events related to machinery rather than livestock were happening. In the tractor driving event, participants were required to drive a predetermined course and were timed.

Participants had to drive in between tires, back the cart attached to the back of their tractor into set boxes and cleanly complete the course. 

In addition to livestock and machinery events happening during the field day, students were also able to demonstrate their skills in the trades. The welding event was held in the Barnhart building. Participants were separated and required to create 3 different welds.

Aiden Bowing and Caleb Richardson, sophomores at Owen County High School, were competing in the welding competition.

“We do two uphill welds and we do a flat weld, and we have two teams we have to play,” Bowling said.

The first weld was a flat bead weld where participants had to weld a 3/16th inch steel. The second weld was a filet where two pieces of steel had to be welded together. The third weld was a vertical where the metal had to be welded straight up. 

The field day also provided an array of individual and group awards. The group awards were broken up into 3 overall winning schools then winners for each competition. 

Last year the overall winners of UK Field Day were Taylor County FFA, Montgomery County FFA and Nelson County FFA.

The overall winners of UK Field Day this year will be posted on the Community and Leadership Development website on Monday, April 24.

Planning for the next field day will begin tomorrow and a date has already been chosen.

“We’ve already reserved Kroger Field. Then, the committee will meet, we’ll talk about what we liked, [that we did this year] what we didn’t like, and we just start working again. And then after about six months we really start working heavy on it,” Vincent said.

UK’s 54th Field Day is currently planned to be held on April 24, 2024 at Kroger Field.