Dora FFA topped the FFA chapters in New Mexico last week, taking home the championship Production Sweepstakes from the state FFA contest.
The contest and awards were Tuesday through Friday in Las Cruces. Dora had 27 competitors out of a total of 1,705.
On their return from winning the state championship, the FFA students had an escort of fire trucks from Elida to Dora, parents who painted the road in their honor and cake when they arrived at their school.
“The kids all performed at their highest level because they were dedicated and committed to being the very best in the state, and their competitive nature and willingness to sacrifice and perform with others on the team level were tremendous,” said Dora agriculture teacher Kit Pettigrew.
Dora has won the Sweepstakes five times since 1991, he said.
The Pasture and Range, Entomology and Dairy Foods teams all placed first in their competitions with another four teams placing in the top five.
Seven students placed in the top five individually in at least one competition, and Pettigrew said sophomore Gowan Hays set a state scoring record in Dairy Foods.
The Home Site team and Pasture and Range team are advancing to the National Land and Pasture and Range competition in Oklahoma City in May, while the Dairy Foods team is going on to compete at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis this October. There is no national competition in Entomology.
The students have been practicing six days a week since January.
“It feels good to be rewarded for all that we worked to do, because we put a lot of time into this,” said sophomore Layni Breshears.
Senior Renee Gantert said Dora FFA members arrive in Las Cruces a day before the competition and study.
Gantert said the students worked harder this year, and attributed part of their success to love of the program. Breshears said the members worked together better this year, and parents’ support and Pettigrew’s “pushing the whole way” helped them win.
Hays said Dora FFA always comes home with an award and is in the running for the state Sweepstakes every year. Breshears said they don’t mess around.
“It helps when you have the best ag teacher in the state,” she also said.
Pettigrew said the students have help from the community as well.