Hunterdon County Professional School District Academy of Engineering and Environmental Sustainability Celebrates Top Graduates at State FFA Events

Formed just last year, the FFA Chapter of the Academy of Engineering and Environmental Sustainability (ESEA) within the Hunterdon County Professional School District has already made its presence known in New Jersey. Now some members are looking to make waves nationwide.

ESEA’s FFA members recently participated in the FFA Career Development Events (CDEs) at Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, registering impressive individual scores, which contributed to top two teams and an invitation to the national championships.

The Land Judging team placed first in the state out of 12 teams, which saw them represent New Jersey in the national competition held in Oklahoma this spring. Team members and their individual rankings include:

  • Ned Scannell: 1st individual place
  • Meredith Whitlock: 2nd individual place
  • Juliann Bonomi: 6th individual place
  • Nina Weiland: 7th in individual

The forestry team came in second – just seven points behind the first. Team members and their rankings include:

  • Alyssa Pershad – 3rd individual place
  • Amelia Weldon – 4th individual place
  • Kirstyn McKee – 5th place individual
  • Emily Robbins – 8th place individual

ESEA teacher and FFA advisor Renée Stillwell said the students “spent a lot of time on their own” to prepare for the competition, stay after school, access resources shared through Google Classroom and train on testing platforms such as Edulastic. She said the land assessment team met for an extended practice at the Califon campus, where members dug out a soil profile and then performed steps as if they were in a real competition. Because this team will move on to the National Championships, they will now begin to travel to different locations to dig soil profiles and evaluate the slopes as an additional practice for the next level of competition.

Stillwell also credited the ESEA program with helping students achieve such performances at the recent CDE. She said students in ESEA I and II learned all of the major concepts covered in both the land appraisal and forestry events. Indeed, ESEA I students devote an entire unit to assessing soils and understanding soil composition, which also prepares them for the soil section of the AP Environmental Science exam.

“Any student interested in pursuing a career in the environmental field would benefit from attending these events,” she said, adding: “Attending FFA career development events provides students with experiences that help them to better understand what future careers might look like. . “

Stillwell knows firsthand the benefits of participating in the FFA. His own history with the organization was probably one of the secrets of the recent victories of ESEA students. In fact, she placed first individually in the 2012 ground test; in 2013, she placed 10th in forestry. After graduating from high school, she remained involved with the FFA, serving as New Jersey FFA Secretary of State from 2016-17 and President of State from 2017-18.

“With my experience… I felt ready to give my students the resources and support they needed to be successful, but ultimately their success was a testament to their hard work and dedication to studying the materials that we discussed, ”she said. “I couldn’t be prouder of them! “

To apply to any Hunterdon County Professional School District program starting next school year, visit hcvsd.org and click “Apply Now” at the top, just before December 17th. The district’s ESEA and other four-year academies are inviting students to apply who will be freshmen in fall 2022.

Submitted by the Hunterdon County Professional School District


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