Summer Hours Through August 9, Lincoln is open Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and closed on Fridays. 

Cultivating Excellence at Lincoln University’s FFA Career Development Experience

Stephanie Cobian | March 20th, 2024

Over 750 high school students gathered to compete at Lincoln University's College of Agriculture, Environmental and Human Sciences (LUCAEHS) for the 42nd annual FFA Career Development Experience (CDE) on March 12, 2024. Wearing practical attire and equipped with all the necessary supplies, they arrived ready for the challenge. The event aimed to provide an educational yet challenging platform, fostering essential skills for students to excel at district, state and national level competitions.

During his opening remarks, Dr. Douglas LaVergne, dean of Lincoln's CAEHS, underscored the significance of the competition as a platform for students to translate classroom knowledge into real-world scenarios. He also emphasized the pivotal role of attitude in shaping success.


Dr. Douglas LaVergne, dean of Lincoln’s CAEHS, and Amy Bax, special assistant to the dean of CAEHS, welcome participants to 42nd annual FFA Career Development Experience.

"Your attitude is the key determinant of your success — not just in school, but in life," Dr. LaVergne says. "It's what's manifested in you as you continue to grow and face challenges."

Students delved into the heart of the competition, engaging in judging contests spanning 13 categories, including agronomy, dairy cattle evaluations, dairy foods, entomology, farm business management, floriculture, forestry, horse evaluations, livestock, meats, poultry evaluations, nursery/landscaping and soils. During assessments, participants maintained focus and patiently waited their turn to demonstrate their knowledge through oral reasoning. Activities ranged from soil evaluations, livestock assessment, forestry skills demonstrations, agronomy challenges and more. Lincoln's CAEHS faculty and staff supervised the individual tests and were assisted by agricultural advisors and members of Lincoln University Ag Club


High school students listen attentively to the address delivered by the dean of CAEHS prior to the start of the competition.

The judging contests were held on campus, LU's George Washington Carver Farm and LU’s Alan T. Busby Research Farm, and local private farms and businesses, including Longfellow's Garden Center, The Covered Bridge Market, Bruemmer Dairy and Jim Dudley Quarter Horses. The success of Lincoln's CDE was made possible by their generous support and resources, ensuring an enriching and memorable experience for all participants.

Amy Bax, special assistant to the dean of CAEHS and an FFA alumna, highlighted the transformative impact of FFA participation on students' personal and professional growth.

"FFA offers numerous opportunities for personal growth and career preparation," Bax says. "Hopefully, these students will find something here that they're passionate about, whether it's raising cattle or having a greenhouse in their backyard. They might choose to pursue agriculture as a career or enjoy it simply as a hobby."


Students conduct soil evaluations at various locations across LU's Carver Farm.

Jim Criger, an FFA advisor and agricultural teacher at Hillcrest High School in Springfield, Missouri, echoed this sentiment, recognizing the broader significance of agricultural education beyond the competition. The day before FFA CDE, Criger took his students to another FFA competition. Despite the 10-hour trip, they immediately prepared for the CDE upon return. Proud of his students' determination to rise to the challenge, he commended FFA and competitive events for instilling work ethic, life skills and agricultural knowledge in students, particularly for students who may not otherwise have access to such opportunities.

"Ag is not really about ag," Criger says. "It's the tool that we use to teach these other things about life, but if they learn little something about farming or ag, that's great, too."

Cooperative Extension Students