FFA, 4-H projects fill state fair center

Farm Forum

MINOT – Someone could easily spend hours wandering through the North Dakota State Fair Center inspecting all 30,000 student projects on display.

Bouquets of wheat and flax grace some tabletops while craft projects covered others. Rows of Adirondack chairs and stools stretch the length of one large hall. Elsewhere, the livestock kids raised watch with curiosity as fairgoers occasionally stop to take a photo.

The number of FFA projects submitted to the fair topped 26,000 this year, an increase from 23,600 last summer. The 4-H program showcased 9,200 projects that advanced from county fairs.

JoDee Free, assistant supervisor for agricultural education and executive secretary for the North Dakota FFA, said new chapters continue to open throughout the state, which accounts for the increase in participation.

High school and middle school students take part in FFA through their schools’ agriculture classes. 4-H is an extracurricular activity, and it’s open to kids as young as 8.

Horticultural projects were particularly popular this year.

“We’ve had a lot of greenhouses open up within our education programs,” Free said.

Two girls from Hebron took home top honors in one category for the toolboxes they made.

Standing inside the state fair center last week, sophomores Morgan Krizan and Kiana Schatz held the perfectly sanded and polished wooden boxes they put together in agriculture mechanics class.

“It started off as one long piece of wood,” said Krizan, who will take home the grand champion ribbon. “I made it from that.”

Several dozen students submitted toolboxes just like hers, albeit some painted various colors. Their finished products are on display all week.

She and her classmates learned to use jigsaws and mitre saws to cut wood.

The girls always show up the boys, she joked.

Schatz, who received a reserve champion ribbon for second place, mastered using a laser engraver to carve a rose into the side of her box.

Both girls said they plan on gifting the toolboxes to their fathers.