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Escalon FFA Team Captures State Food Science, Tech Title
ffa win
Escalon FFA members, from left, Wyatt McCune, Melanie Smith, Madison Hagglund and Benjamin Millard pose with coach Matthew Terra as they brought home the California State Title in the Food Science and Technology competition. Photo Contributed

Members of the Escalon FFA Food Science and Technology Team competed at their state finals competition at UC Davis recently and came away with the top honors in the event.

The purpose of this contest, said FFA advisors, is to promote learning activities in food science and technology related to the food industry. Each team competes in a knowledge/math/food safety test, a sensory test, as well as a product development project and presentation.

“We would like to offer a huge congratulations to Madison Hagglund, Melanie Smith, Benjamin Millard, and Wyatt McCune, as they won first place,” said Escalon ag teacher Isabella Leventini.

The team – hopefully – will get to go on to compete at the Nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana in October.

Along with the overall team championship, three of the members finished in the top five in the state. Madison Hagglund was First High Individual, Melanie Smith was Second High Individual, and Benjamin Millard was Fifth High Individual.

“Three of the students, Madison Hagglund, Wyatt McCune and Ben Millard competed in the contest last year and won second place. This year, with the addition of Melanie Smith, they won the state title,” Leventini noted. “This allows them to go to the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis this October, where they will be competing against other FFA members from around the country.”

Providing some expertise to help the team was Matthew Terra, the Escalon FFA’s Ag Booster Club President. He coaches three of the school’s Career Development Teams. He coaches the Food Science team, as well as the Agronomy and Vegetable Judging teams for the Escalon FFA Chapter.

“The students practice weekly for several months and tour different food processing facilities for some hands on learning,” Leventini said of preparing for the competition.

Some of the objectives for this competition include:

To encourage FFA members to gain an awareness of career and professional opportunities in the field of food science and technology;

To provide FFA members with the opportunity to experience group participation and leadership responsibilities in a competitive food science and technology program; and

To help FFA members develop technical competence and personal initiative in a food science and technology occupation.

“The students compete both individually and as a team,” added Leventini. “Individually, they go through several rounds of testing for food safety/quality assurance, scent/aroma identification, and problem solving. As a team they must develop a product given certain specifications and present that to a panel of judges.”

With the state title now in hand, the team hopes to represent California at the national level later this year.