Oak Creek Byron Dean likely doesn't need fresh wallpaper or a new paint job for his classroom walls at Soroco High School. There probably are more than enough FFA awards to fill the space.
"We've got dozens of plaques," Dean said last week, referring to years of success by the South Routt chapter of the National FFA Organization, which develops leadership and entrepreneurial skills in high school students through agricultural education.
The National FFA Organization was founded in 1928 as the Future Farmers of America but changed its name in 1988 to reflect the broadening scope of agricultural education.
Many of Dean's vocational agriculture students competed Monday in the FFA's Western Slope Judging Contest, which brought teams from more than 10 schools to Rifle for a variety of agriculture-related events and competitions.
Soroco High School brought two teams to the contest. Each team won its event.
Seniors Dennis Morgan and Lars Berglund, juniors Bobby Mason and Jeph Donaldson and sophomore Joe Long won the agricultural mechanics event, which tested skills such as welding, pipe soldering, tool identification and tool sharpening.
"It's everything from equipment maintenance to tool maintenance and ID, welding, electrical plumbing and some carpentry," Dean said.
Dean said Mason earned the third-highest score of all the entrants in the event. Team members won self-darkening welding helmets with the victory.
Soroco's livestock judging team also won, as senior Glenda Long, juniors Kimberly Rossi and Sarajane Rossi and freshmen Ceana Rossi and Michael Rossi displayed expertise in rating livestock.
"They look at cattle, both breeding and market, and evaluate the class and place the class," Dean said of the livestock judging event, which tests knowledge of musculature and finish in cattle, sheep and hogs.
Dean said Sarajane Rossi earned the highest livestock judging score in the whole contest, and Long earned the third-highest score.
The Soroco team won belt buckles with the victory.
The students also brought back some more plaques. The Soroco FFA teams next will compete at the state competition, May 4 and 5 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
Dean said Soroco's parliamentary procedure and quiz bowl teams also qualified for the state event.
"We have four state-qualifying teams coming out of this little school this year," he said proudly.
He might need more room on the walls.
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