Nonnewaug High School Food Science Team members have a head start on their careers thanks to their first place finish in a national competition. Their Gold Team Medal earned them not only scholarships toward their college educations, but also job offers after graduation.
The students’ coach, Nonnewaug Agriscience Director Bill Davenport, told the State Board of Education yesterday that the competition’s corporate sponsor, Kraft Foods, informed the students, “you’re the kind of people we need for our business.”
To win, the students successfully completed a lengthy competition that included demonstrating comprehensive knowledge of the Food Science field, a sensory evaluation and taste test, a safety exam, and a group project that required the students to produce and market a product.
Summer Churchill, who is now enrolled at Texas A&M studying animal and food science, told State Board members that the experience of participating in the convention helped her learn to be confident and to follow her goals for herself. “We won nationals,” she said. “I can do anything.”
Courtney Nastri, the president of the Woodbury For the Future of Agriculture (FFA) chapter, said that she sees how the agriscience program opens doors for so many students. “We can apply what we learn at school to our future dreams,” she said.
“There’s something for everyone,” continued Nastri. “Whether they’re interested in veterinary medicine, food science, landscaping, or something else, it gives them an opportunity to get involved with something they love. School is a second home for me. I love it there.”
Nastri hopes to continue her education next year at the University of Connecticut studying animal science.
“It’s not just the usual academics,” said Abby Ray. “There’s an opportunity for hands-on learning and internships.” Ray used to think that she wasn’t a science person, but said that the courses she took in high school changed her mind.
Ray is now studying animal science and public health at the University of Massachusetts. Molly Korowotny is also at UMass majoring in animal science.
In total the Woodbury FFA Chapter sent 44 students and recent graduates to the national convention this year. The chapter was the only one in the nation out of 7,300 chapters to send so many teams to the national convention in one year. In addition to the first-place finish, the chapter’s Dairy Judging Team placed fourth in the country, and several other teams placed very highly.
Nastri credits these successes to the hard work of Nonnewaug educators. “Without teacher and faculty support we wouldn’t have gotten as far as we did,” she said. “It’s amazing how much they really care about students. They put in a lot of extra hours that they’re not getting paid for.”