FFA National Champions!

By: Tom Behrens

When you sat down for Thanksgiving dinner this year with friends and relatives, did you know a group of four Katy High School FFA girls have become poultry experts through their FFA training received at Katy High School. In October they were named FFA Poultry National Champions in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The members of the Katy High School team – Kailey Kulhanek, Amber Hall, Reagan Barnett and Jaime Hahn – placed 1st as a team and captured 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 7th High Point Individual awards. The Katy team competed against teams from Missouri, Ohio, California, Oklahoma, Georgia, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa and Kentucky.

FFA poultry program is different than popular programs such as livestock; poultry FFA members do not have the animals to raise and care for. At Katy High School, and other FFA chapters across Texas and the United States, students learn through classroom sessions to evaluate production, processing, marketing and consumption of chicken, turkeys, processed products, and eggs. Katy FFA Coach Jacob Price described the FFA program as an after school hours club.

At poultry contests Hens are ranked according to their pigment loss, handling quality, then followed by abdominal capacity. Good handling quality is characterized by the hen’s leanness and trimness. Large abdominal capacity goes with high egg production. Students become familiar with the different parts of the hen in particular, the comb, the eye ring, the earlobe, the beak, and waddles.

The road to National Championship honors began last November as the Katy FFA girls began to learn about poultry management. In April of this year competitions began first with area championships. From there the next stop was the Texas state championship competition at Texas A&M University, and then on to Indianapolis in October.

At the contests students complete a written exam, solve a management problem, evaluate the birds and products, as well as identify various poultry products. At Indianapolis, the team was given a scenario in which they had five minutes before the judges, evaluating eggs and the facilities where the eggs came from.

Reagan Barnett,  2nd Place Individual, shared that a big part of the contest is the written exam over the different aspects of the poultry industry. “I really hit the books hard, reading over all the different sections, trying to know the answers to possible questions that could be on the test. I just wanted to make sure my test score was really good.”

Jaime Hahn – High Point Individual – said poultry was not her first choice, but after her coach, Jacob Price, approached her into getting involved with poultry, she immediately fell in love with all the aspects of the poultry industry. “Next year as a freshman in college, they have a college version of the judging, and I think I want to become involved in it.” She will be attending Texas A&M University and will have a major in Poultry Science, minor in Business, and hopes to go on to be a Poultry Nutritionist.

Reagan Barnett – 2nd Place Individual – shared now when she goes to the grocery store to buy eggs, she opens the cartons and looks at them. “I do get some crazy looks from people as I look at them.”

For their accomplishment the Katy girls received FFA scholarships of $250.00 at the state level, and $1,000.00 scholarships at the National level from companies such as Tyson Foods, and different poultry associations.

Katy FFA won National Poultry Championships in 2018 and 2019. Add 2022 to that list!