Hundreds of students gathered in Beatrice to compete in a variety of ag-related events during an annual competition hosted by Southeast Community College.

The Beatrice campus hosted the career development day on Tuesday, marking more than 30 years that FFA students have been invited to SCC’s Beatrice campus to compete.

Students from 31 high schools participated in areas that included food sciences, welding, ag mechanics, agronomy, ag sales, ag biotechnology, farm management and other categories.

Annie Erichsen of SCC coordinated the event with the high schools.

She said the FFA students who participate not only enjoy the event, but get a glimpse of SCC’s campus and offerings in Beatrice.

“We use it as a recruiting tool to bring students on campus, show them what the campus looks like and the benefits of coming to Southeast Community College, no matter what program they want to go into,” she said. “They get to see all aspects of it.”

Mark Duffek, an ag mechanics and agronomy instructor at SCC, said a variety of instructors and professionals oversee the competition and judging, but the event wouldn’t be possible without current SCC students.

“SCC students help monitor the contests,” he said. “We couldn’t do it without student help. There’s just too much to manage and, as an instructor, I actually need about 12 students helping me.”

Erichsen said current SCC students are happy to help with the event. In fact, many of them participated in the annual event themselves while in FFA as high school students.

“As far as our students, they’ve competed in these contests all through high school,” she said. “Now they get to see the other side of it and what it takes to put together this contest. A lot of our kids talk about how they were on the other side of that and they remember doing that contest.

“When they sign up for contests, they usually sign up for ones they’re familiar with and we see a lot of the kids come back.”

Duffek added that the event does help recruit students to SCC, and he’s recognized a few faces of new students over the years from participating as high school students.

“It gets the students on campus and shows them what the ag program is all about,” he said. “That way, it gives them exposure and hopefully we get a lot of these students to come here for post-secondary education. In the past, I’ve had students in these contests who actually come to school here and I recognize them from the high school FFA contest here. That’s pretty cool.”

Duffek estimated that more than 600 students from the area attended the one-day event at SCC-Beatrice on Tuesday.

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