Learning, Doing, Earning, and Serving
award. “I don’t have as much interest in livestock. Wildlife management is really what got me involved.”
When asked what gave his project the edge in the competition, Colton says, “I think it was because I kept getting better; I gained more land, I made more money, I caught more animals. It just kept growing.” But he credits the preparation and resources his advisor gave him as the ultimate key to his success.
“Mr. Windsor set up all the paperwork and helped me figure it out,” says Colton. “He taught me how to write down goals, how to get equipment. He lets me trap on his land. He doesn’t take much credit for it, but he helped me out a lot. He really pushed me.” And when Colton got on stage at the National FFA Convention to give a speech on his project, he admits he was thankful for his advisor once again, though he winces in apparent embarrassment as he explains, “He made me write the speech, and two months before the convention he made me practice it every class in front of the other students so they could offer suggestions and ask questions.” Getting up in front of the approximately 55,000 attendees was still a little stressful, he allows, but at least he knew his speech was solid.
Colton plans to continue his business, and hopes to one day become a professional trapper, taxidermist and hunting guide. He hasn’t made a decision on college as yet, but he is sure that he will continue his involvement with FFA and wildlife management. Whatever his future pursuits, says Colton, his interest in the outdoors and conservation “is for life.”
FFA: A Good Foundation
The National FFA Organization is far more than an extracurricular activity. Founded in 1928, the organization holds a federal charter, and two of its top three executives are employed by the U.S. Department of Education. All public school students in grades 7 to 12 who are enrolled in agriculture courses can join FFA, which helps them apply classroom instruction to hands-on opportunities, such as starting their own business or working for an established company. Agriculture teachers become advisors to local FFA chapters and offer guidance on projects, competitions, and business and communication skills. As of 2007, there were 500,823 FFA members in 7,358 chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Last year, the organization awarded $1.9 million