Students from Cisne High School dominated the District 5 Future Farmers of America Agriscience Fair, held Tuesday, March 14, at Rend Lake College. Cisne students claimed the top three spots and six of the top 12 overall.
More than 100 students from FFA chapters at several Illinois high schools displayed scores of projects at the event, which was held in James “Hummer” Waugh Gymnasium. RLC hosted the event and provided cash prizes to the participants.
The annual fair, which began in 1999, has become more popular each year. Last year, 80 students displayed 56 projects.
Taking top honors this year was Ethan Keyser of Cisne High School, who won second place overall at last year’s event. His project this year involved deworming pigs. Keyser won $55.
In second place was Ashlee Lambrich, also of Cisne High School. She received $45 for her project, which involved determining which variety of apple contained the most juice. Another Cisne product, Jarrod Fearn, won $35 for his third-place project, which involved determining the presence of magnetic materials in soil.
Dean Dittmar, Field Advisor for Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education (FCAE), said the Agriscience Fair has evolved over the years to focus on the connection between agriculture and science, and the FFA and Rend Lake College continue to move in that direction.
The students took on a wide range of projects, such as determining the most nutritious brand of horse feed, keeping food fresh, divining the effects of soil compaction on soybean germination, observing how gravity affects corn growth, studying free radicals and their effects on the body and learning how to breed the fattest chickens, among others.
The projects were judged based on the knowledge students gained in the process, a scientific approach to the problem, research, thoroughness and presentation, among others.
“It’s a way of marketing,” Dittmar said of the Agriscience Fair. He said the science aspect seems to be the major factor in convincing students to take agriculture classes and become involved with the FFA.
While working on their projects, students gain a measure of real-world experience. “They gain a better understanding of what they learn in class, how all these scientific principles apply in the real world,” Dittmar said.
The Agriscience Fair also serves to introduce students to Rend Lake College, which boasts well-known and aggressive agriculture programs.
High-resolution versions of the above photos are available by following the links in the captions.